McCall’s Winter Carnival


Nothing brings out the wonderland during the cold winter months like a winter carnival.

Instead of looking at winter as a dark and freezing season, a winter carnival makes it possible to see this season for its wonder and beauty. Every year, the Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho makes it possible for many to enjoy winter's majestic awe.

For over 49 years, the town of McCall has celebrated in the middle of winter to find joy in the winter season. The Winter Carnival was formed as a way to break up winter days and create a time of fun in the cold winter air. This winter tradition encompasses everything good about the winter season. It started small: residents made snow sculptures and displayed them in their front yard. In 1924, this small town tradition turned into the first McCall winter carnival. It was three days long and began with the largest train to enter McCall at that point. Carrying 248 people, these people came to have fun at what once was the Payette lakes Sports Carnival. Some of the many traditions were started that year included ski racing and jumping, ski joring (skiing while being pulled by a horse), snow shoveling contests, snowshoe races, and dog sled racing. This slowly evolved into the McCall Winter Carnival and what it is today.

Still full of competitions and activities, thousands of people come to McCall, Idaho from across the United States to have fun during the winter. Over the many years of existence, the carnival has picked up many different traditions along the way. One of them included an ice break-up contest. This contest involved the participants guessing when the ice in the lake would thaw and break up. The person who guessed the closest to the day and time would win the prize.

PayetteEvery year in McCall, Idaho, there is an ice sculpture competition for everyone to see. A tradition that started in 2012 is to add snow creations to the ice sculpture contest. This added diversity to the sculptures at the carnival. These snow and ice sculptures are the focal point for the winter carnival. They range from sculptures of animals to an interpretation of Jack Frost. Almost every shape and size of ice sculptures are displayed around McCall where anyone walking by can enjoy the artistry of the ice sculptures. Some ice sculptures this year are even over 20 feet high! Now a national event, the winner of the ice sculpture competition receives major recognition.

The party doesn't stop with admiring artwork. McCall begins and concludes the Winter Carnival with fireworks.To add to the excitement, around the carnival there are many shows to entertain: a Lobster Feed, the McCall Stars on Ice Show, live bull and Bronco Riding event, a comedy show, dog sled racing, ski racing and jumping.

There are other activities for one to enjoy, Ice fishing Derby, live karaoke, snow Bike Race, ski joring, snowshoe races, and snow shoveling competitions. One of the more popular activities are ride-one-of-the-Payette-lakes taxi boats.These boats are vehicles that are set on steel runners and driven by a plane engine and propeller. Another popular activity, that is also tradition, is the toboggan ride--old fashioned sledding--that starts at the top of a hill and crosses the street, finally ending on the bank of the lake.

No matter what you choose to do when visiting the Winter Carnival in McCall, there is a way for you to enjoy the winter wonderland in Idaho.

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