Some hot chocolate and amazing ice sculptures could make the heart of winter a little easier to handle thanks to a winter festival to be hosted by Owatonna's Camp Pillsbury.

The Winter Wonderland event will feature ice sculptures and winter-related activities January 15-18, 2018. People can watch large ice sculptures carved on site at Camp Pillsbury and view pre-carved sculptures that will be placed around campus. Professional ice festival company Rock on Ice will make the frozen statues. Plans include having some in Central Park in downtown Owatonna.

Camp Pillsbury owner Vonda White indicates she has been considering this idea for a year, according to a news release from the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. She says, "Owatonna has so much potential to turn into a destination during the wintertime." White worked with Katie Godfrey, director of conventions and tourism, to obtain a grant from Explore Minnesota.

Godfrey says, "Not only is this a great concept for a community event, but it could have a tremendous economic impact as well. People will come here for the activities and we hope they will shop, go out to restaurants, spend the night at our lodging properties. With support from the grant we will be heavily marketing this event to out-of-towners so we hope to see a lot of new faces in our community this winter."

The grant partially funds related expenses. White says, "As this is a nonprofit event, we will be asking the local business community for support...The more funding this project receives the more ice sculptures we can put out for the event." For details on becoming a sponsor, call White at (507) 214-2200.

In a related note, Camp Pillsbury will put on a couple of performances during the Steele County Fair. They are scheduled for the Village of Yesteryear stage Wednesday, August 16, at 4PM and Friday, August 18, at 4PM.

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