For almost three decades the Ice Alaska World Art Ice Championships has impressed Fairbanksans and visitors from around the world with crystalline ice sculptures. Whether or not the event happens this year will be decided tonight during an Ice Alaska board meeting.
So how much does Fairbanks want an Ice Alaska event this year? Ice Alaska needs about $35,000 in additional support to ensure the event happens this year.
The last year or so has been turbulent for Ice Alaska. In December 2016, a fire destroyed the warming building at the ice park on Phillips Field Road. In the fall of 2017, the organization separated entirely from Dick and Hoa Brickley, the family who’s been running Ice Alaska for the better part of three decades.
The fallout between Ice Alaska and the Brickleys stems from a dispute over the George Horner Ice Park. To resolve the organization’s debts in 2014, the Ice Alaska board signed over the George Horner Ice Park to the Brickley’s business, D&H Enterprises.
Board members said Ice Alaska’s previous sponsors have pulled out since the last event. The Bill Stroeker Foundation has since signed on as a title sponsor of the event, donating $15,000. Ice Alaska is seeking $35,000 to cover the estimated $50,000 in operating costs for the event this year. Without a doubt, the 2018 ice art event will be smaller than in years past. Hank Bartos, the chairman of the Ice Alaska board is calling the 2018 ice art event a “dry run” under a new business model at a new venue, the Tanana Valley State Fairgrounds, March 10-17.
Mr. Bartos said the board is not seeking cash right away. Instead it is looking for pledges to donate money equal to $35,000. The pledges are needed before the board makes its decision.
Board member Bruce Foote said Ice Alaska is 100 percent nonprofit. The blurring of nonprofit and for-profit entities is what put Ice Alaska in financial trouble, Mr. Foote said. Multiple board members said this is a situation they want to avoid in the future.
The board agreed Jan. 31 should be the cutoff date for deciding whether to move forward with the event. There is a lot of preparation involved, such as cutting ice from ponds and recruiting volunteers. The board does not want to waste people’s time if it does not have the money to put on an event.
Fairbanks should hope the board succeeds. But if it doesn’t, Mr. Bartos said the board will focus on 2019.
For more information, contact Ice Alaska board member Steff Clymer at 347-8888. The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. today at 1427 Gillam Way.
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.