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Challenge met: Wolfville builds ice igloo after Hantsport throws down gauntlet

WOLFVILLE, NS - The weather could have been more co-operative but it didn’t stop the Town of Wolfville from answering Hantsport’s ice igloo challenge.

Wolfville community development officer Nick Zamora and volunteers started working on the ice igloo in Clock Park during the morning of Feb. 24. He said the town took Hantsport up on the challenge because building an ice igloo is a fun thing to do and it fits well with the theme of the town’s Feb. 24 Winter Warmer event in Clock Park.

“They do a great job down in Hantsport and the finished product looks really nice so we wanted to give it a try,” Zamora said.

Hantsport has included a community ice igloo project in its winter carnival for several years. Last month, festival organizer Paul Morton, the deputy warden of West Hants, threw down the gauntlet and challenged Wolfville to do the same.

Zamora said the hardest part was finding enough freezer space for the ice blocks that make up the igloo. During the early stages of construction, he said they were playing it by ear and seeing how it went.

Zamora said they received some construction tips from Hantsport and having a professional bricklayer, Ryan Noseworthy of Sackville, involved was definitely a big help.

They had approximately 200 clear and coloured ice blocks to work with, many of which were made by volunteers. Zamora said Wolfville’s ice igloo would be smaller than Hantsport’s, which takes approximately 500 blocks to build.

The blocks are made by freezing water in two-litre milk cartons and adding food colouring to make coloured blocks. The cardboard cartons are peeled off before the blocks are added to the structure.

The igloo was constructed on a base of snow brought in from the Zamboni at the Acadia Arena. The radius of the circular foundation was measured using a piece of rope tied at the centre point to ensure consistency.

A mixture of snow and water is used to make the mortar for the bricks. Zamora said you “build it up from the bottom and hope that it turns into a dome at the end.” He said they hoped to have the igloo completed by late afternoon so it could be lit at around 6:30 p.m.

Read more about Hantsport’s ice igloo here.

See a video from Hantsport’s 2017 igloo construction here.

Read more about Wolfville accepting Hantsport’s challenge here.

The temperature was hovering around 5C when construction got underway. Zamora said this didn’t necessarily pose a challenge in building the igloo. However, in spite of the inherent strength of domed structures, “we don’t think that it’s going to last for too long.”

“If we get a week out of it, that would be nice,” Zamora said. “We’ll see.”

He said they didn’t plan the Winter Warmer event around snow, so the lack of the white stuff probably wouldn’t have much impact on other planned activities. These included an ice carving demonstration, live music and serving hot chocolate and Belgium waffles. Strong wind gusts ended up posing a challenge though, wreaking havoc with portable staging brought in for the musical performance.

The right skills

Noseworthy said his brick laying skills were helping somewhat in the construction but he isn’t used to working with ice so “there’s kind of a learning curve.” He found the project to be somewhat challenging although the ice bricks seemed to stick together quite well using the slush mortar.

Noseworthy, who grew up in Wolfville, said he decided to get involved in the project after his cousin James Collicutt, an employee of Wolfville’s community development department, asked if he could come lend a hand. Noseworthy said he was more than happy to oblige.

He said it was a nice day to spend working outside and he hoped everyone would like the finished product. Noseworthy said with a smile that the head mason of the Hantsport igloo project, Scott Miller, is his boss so “I don’t want to try to out-best him.”

Jenn Kang of Wolfville also volunteered to help build the igloo. She used to work as a bricklayer in India. Kang said working in the medium of ice and snow was “different but similar at the same time.”

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