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Workers spend weekend using heavy equipment to build ice castle

Workers use a crane and front loaders to move ice blocks into place Sunday as weekend construction on this year's Spicer Winterfest Ice Castle continues. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

SPICER -- For the 14th time in 21 years, Spicer will have an ice castle for its Winterfest celebration.

Continuing a longtime tradition, Wee Kut Ice Company started construction on Spicer's ice castle this weekend for the Winterfest 2009 festivities.

After a two-year absence due to mild winters, an ice castle returned to Spicer's Saulsbury Beach for Winterfest 2008. And although west central Minnesota has seen plenty of freezing temperatures lately, Green Lake didn't produce the best ice for creating the frozen structure this year.

According to Lori Campbell, assistant interim city administrator of Spicer, the volunteers started construction Friday after running into a delay from the previous weekend. Campbell said the snowfall of December apparently created some weak spots in the lake's ice and Wee Kut Ice Co. needed to clean the snow off the section of lake needed for the castle so stronger ice could form.

Mike Lint and Gideon Doty, owners of Wee Kut Ice Co. and longtime builders of the Spicer Ice Castle, could not be reached for comment about the construction progress of the ice castle and neighboring ice slide.

In past years, the ice blocks for the Spicer Ice Castle have usually reached sizes of 15 to 24 inches thick and weighed between 600 and 700 pounds. Last year, the volunteers designed the ice structure as a classic, medieval times-like castle.

As construction started Friday, Winterfest festivities also began this weekend. Snowmobiles roared on Green Lake at 10 a.m. The majority of Winterfest 2009 events start Saturday, including the annual winter softball tournament, the Frozen 5k Run/Walk, and the lighting of the ice castle at 7 p.m.

Winterfest 2009 continues on the weekends until Feb. 7.