Now that my boyfriend Greg and I both have our work schedules a whole month at a time, it's been easier to make plans. So when I saw that we both had Friday the 23rd off, I turned to the internet for fun things to do. This being winter, I decided to see which snow and ice festivals I could find within easy driving distance. For a mutual evening off, we attended the Plymouth Ice Festival, and the 23rd turned out to be smack dab in the middle of the Zehnder's Snowfest in Frankenmuth (home of hidden gnomes).
The German Club in my high school made a pilgrimage to Frankenmuth every year. I was in French Club, so I didn't visit "Little Bavaraia" until a couple of years ago with my adventurous roommate-at-the-time and fellow sky pirate Kimmy and Greg. Kimmy, being from California, had also never been; Greg had. (We found many gnomes.)
There had been no festival then, though, so this trip was considerably more, well, festive and also crowded. The temp was pretty cold, but not God-awful, and there were plenty of shops to duck into to warm up. Our first discovery was apparently new to the area, and I loved it: Got Kilt?. They carried kilts (obviously) in all shades and sizes, some steampunk items, and Doctor Who merchandise. (And since the website doesn't say, they are located, according to Bing, at 566 S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734.) Why was Kimmy not with us that day??? She would have loved it.
Next, we looked through a candy shop, where we managed not to buy anything (I'm trying really hard to cut down on sugar, so I view this as a victory), then we found the first of the snow sculptures. Unlike with the ice sculptures from last week, I saw few electric saws. I did see a lot of picks (think Yukon Cornelius) and other more typical sculpting tools.
I can't help wondering where all the tightly packed snow came from. It must have been trucked in like the blocks of ice in Plymouth. Some of these sculptures were quite large! It was impressive.
Moving on, we found the petting zoo. Because it isn't a festival without exposing farm animals to the elements and bribing them complacent with pellet food. There were camels. One of them slid on the slushy pavement of the parking lot they were set up in, but recovered quickly and was happy to camera crash for some pellets. (I wonder if the camels were cold.) Also there were goats, one of whom reminded me of Anton LaVey (don't ask). Greg saw another animal he couldn't identify that I am not sure I noticed.
After popping in and out of a few more shops, we found the smaller - but still as big as a backyard shed - snow sculptures. These were fun! We saw Mario from Super Mario Brothers coming out a pipe, Castle Grayskull complete with Skeletor and He-Man action figures hanging out in the "eyes," a giant shark a la Jaws movie posters (each tooth was carefully crafted row after row), and many more.
We also learned the clock tower does, in fact, have characters come out of it (we weren't sure on our last trip), but not many and very slowly. A recording tells the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Unlike a number of families sitting around on benches, we did not tarry here long, instead lured by the sculptures.
We finished our day with dinner at the local Frankenmuth microbrewery (which will probably get reviewed on my food blog next week), then headed home. We ended up skipping Bronner's CHRISTmas store this time. If you've never been to Bronner's before, you definitely want to include it in your itinerary and during Zehnder's Snowfest is a pretty nifty time to visit!