ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The 36th Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition is underway with 13 participating teams at Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N 2nd St.

The winner will represent Illinois in the national competition in 2023.

Competition organizers said that sculptors are prepared for the frigid temps.

“Some of them have sculpted in Canada, Germany and Russia, so they know how to prepare for the elements and what all that they will be facing with regard to the wind chill tomorrow,” said Kellie Olivencia, event director of the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition.

Eleven local high school teams will also take part. People’s Choice voting begins Saturday morning, which will be done online this year.

Valeria Walters, a senior at Belvidere North High School, has participated in the competition for three years and has been a part of the winning team for two.

She said the key to success is to have a set plan.

“It’s a lot of fun, just the enthusiasm, the snow, the cold, all the hard work that goes into putting it in, and what you get out of it, it’s really worth it,” she said.

Walters’ team has been practicing with a clay mold and a grid paper sketch, to help them best realize their snow sculpture.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” said Marta Boone, who attends school at Boylan High School.

“Yeah, it’s a lot harder. It’s a lot colder than I thought it was going to be,” said classmate Evan Lindstedt.

Boone and Lindstedt are first-timers this year.

Mark Miller, the advisor for Rockford Christian’s team, said being able to watch the process is what keeps him coming back each year. “To watch it go from this blank block to a finished sculpture over two and a half days is really amazing,” he said.

There are four students on each high school team, working with a 4x4x6′ block of snow.

Adults on the 3-person state teams are given a 6x6x10′ block to work with.

It takes two and a half tons of snow to make one state-sized snow block, according to Olvencia.

“It’s awesome to see them continue to develop their craft and art and be able to display that for the public to drive through, or walkthrough, and see,” she said.

Walters said she is looking forward to transferring to the state snow sculpting competition after she graduates, “Maybe bringing back old friends and other people that I know, maybe we can start our own snow sculpting team in the future,” she said.