When the McCall Chamber of Commerce announced the theme for their newly reimagined Winter Carnival, they had no idea how accurately it would describe their 2024 event. 

The spot on theme for this year’s event is “Color Outside the Lines” and thanks to some uncooperative weather, that’s exactly what the folks competing in this year’s snow sculpture competition will have to do! 

Big Changes for McCall’s 2024 Winter Carnival

Townsquare Media
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For as long as we can remember, McCall Winter Carnival has been a 10-day event starting at the end of January and stretching into the first days of February. Thousands of tourists flock to the mountain town to enjoy skiing at Brundage, the parades, fireworks over Payette Lake, snow sculptures, live music, local beers, vendors and more. Those events are what makes McCall Winter Carnival…well, Winter Carnival. 

Those events will continue this year, but you’ll have less time to enjoy them and they’ll be moving to the END of February. This year’s dates are February 23-25.

Why Make Such a Drastic Change?

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
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The McCall Chamber worked very closely with businesses in town and asked them how things like the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2021 event impacted their bottom line. In the past, Winter Carnival played a huge role in McCall’s economy, but 82% of the businesses that the chamber talked to said that canceling the event in 2021 didn’t negatively impact their business. In fact, 80% of those businesses said they actually fared better that year. 

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A few business owners said that Winter Carnival actually felt like a burden for them. Traditionally, the 10-day event draws nearly 60,000 tourists to a town that has less than 4,000 year-round residents. Trying to find enough staff to handle that sort of surge was extremely difficult. Some businesses opted to close during Winter Carnival rather than provide their guests with service below their normal standards. 

Decision makers combined that feedback with what they found in a deep dive into McCall’s winter lodging trends and decided shortening the event and moving it to the end of February would be a better fit for McCall’s actual residents. Ultimately, that’s the name of the game for the McCall Chamber and it’s awesome to see an organization do the right thing for the people in its own community! 

Organizers Make Another Significant Change

Michelle Heart, Towsnquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
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A little over a week ago, the McCall Winter Carnival Facebook account addressed rumors that this year’s event was canceled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. Those rumors simply weren’t true and they’d already been thinking about how to pivot the Snow Sculpture competition. 

Basically, because they can’t get the snow blocks for the sculptures to freeze because of the warm weather, they’re throwing out the rules! This year’s competitors are allowed to use whatever materials they’d like to create the base for their sculptures. Anything they can get their hands on. Plastic. Chicken wire. Plywood. You name it, it’s fair game. 

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
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The competition is divided into two divisions: amateur and professional. Four winners are chosen per division and there’s usually a significant cash prize for those winners. In 2023, fourth prize was $750, third prize was $1,000, second prize was $1,500 and first place received an incredible $2,000! 

Based on some of the sculptures we’ve seen over the last years, the changes to the competition make us REALLY excited to see what the sculptors come up with this year when they get to use materials that were previously banned. Here’s a look back at the sculptures that wowed crowd last year! 

LOOK: 19 of McCall Winter Carnival's Spectacular Snow Sculptures from 2023

McCall Winter Carnival wrapped up on Sunday, February 5, 2023!

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

Sneak a Peak at McCall Winter Carnival's 19 Marvelous 2022 Snow Sculptures

After a year away, McCall Winter Carnival returned in 2022! These were 19 of the sculptures artists put together.

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

Can You Help Us Solve The Mystery Of These 15 McCall Winter Carnival Snow Sculptures?

Sometimes when you go to McCall Winter Carnival on the second weekend you realize that some of the snow sculptures had a tough week. But they're cool, so you take pictures of them anyway. Any chance you can help us piece together what these were?

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

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