Winterfest snow-carving competition.
His 19 co-competitors -- with many state and regional carving champions among them -- voted his "Blind Date" carving, right, the Sculptors' Prize. It carried only $100 with it, but much prestige for the long-time carver (and a champion himself, see our earlier story).
As if that wasn't enough, Gardner, a retired engineer from Caledonia, IL, also won the People's Choice vote conducted among visitors to the Monument Square display. This prize carried a heftier $500 check. His winning sculpture was entitled "Blind Date," a lovable troll with a bouquet of flowers (and a pig, for dinner) in his backpack. "It's big and bold," Gardner said, "something people enjoy." The pig, he added, clearly makes the event "a dinner date."
The vote for second prize turned out to be a tie, so DRC came up with two awards: One went to Jeff Shawhan of Racine, last year's lone snowcarver in Monument Square. , and last year's Chicago and Wisconsin state champion. He won for "Feed me, Seymour."
The other second prize went to Jeff Olson for his "Kiss" sculpture, a re-creation of the iconic end-of-World-War-II Times Square smooch. Both second prize winners received checks for $400 from Devin Sutherland, DRC executive director.