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Small festival with big plans debuts in Talkeetna

Ice turtle may be the best the town has ever seen
While the inaugural year for the Talkeetna Ice Festival was quaint, Crow hopes that it will grow into an annual event over the years to bring much-needed relief
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 6:05 PM AKST
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TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - In order to measure a story of true success, one has to be there for the modest beginning. During what is normally a quiet time of the year for the small, tucked away community of Talkeetna, a new winter tradition kicked off on Saturday with ice, art, and a little friendly competition — well, competitor.

“For our first year we had one entry,” said Michelle Crow, business manager for the Denali Arts Council, smiling. “... (Maureen Gualtieri) made the best ice turtle that we’ve ever seen in Talkeetna.”

While the inaugural year for the Talkeetna Ice Festival was quaint, Crow hopes that it will grow into an annual event over the years to bring much-needed relief to a town that lives through seasons of feast or famine.

Maureen Gualtieri carved what could be the best ice turtle ever seen in Talkeetna
Maureen Gualtieri carved what could be the best ice turtle ever seen in Talkeetna(AKNS)

“January, February are pretty tough months for the community,” Crow said. “So if we could grow this to a destination event and people around the state come and rent rooms and have dinner at the restaurants, it would be a really good boon for our community.”

The festival is not only a way to boost tourism, but also serves as a reason to get people out of their homes and into the outdoors during the longest, darkest months the state experiences. The snowy start to the afternoon didn’t stop families from coming out to admire pieces carved by professional ice sculptor Tony Hartgrove, who also provided a real-time demonstration while residents picked up their own chisels and chipped out personal creations.

Overall, Crow considers the first-ever Talkeetna Ice Festival a success and is already looking forward to Talkeetna Ice Festival 2023.

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