Aroostook County – County residents have likely noticed a few festive outdoor additions to the Presque Isle area over the last couple of weeks. That’s because earlier in February, the lead partner organizations for the 2014 IBU Youth/Junior Biathlon World Championships and the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce challenged community businesses, organizations and even families to make creative use of the copious snowfall the area has recently received by creating snow sculptures with an international flair. All five sponsors (Key Bank, MMG Insurance, Daigle Oil Company, Dead River Company and Katahdin Trust Company) put up gift cards and merchandise totaling approximately $500 in value for the grand prize package.
The Biathlon has brought elite athletes from over the world to the region, and eight community businesses, organizations and even families met the contest challenge head on. Many went above and beyond in the spirit creating a welcoming atmosphere for The County’s international guests with multicultural snowmen and snow sculptures.
While judges from four of the five lead partners of the Biathlon found all entries impressive in various ways, it was the Galipeau family of Presque Isle whose submission rose to the top in all three of the designated judging criteria: creativity, quality, and the inclusion of a multicultural theme.
“We had a blast! All of us were very impressed with all of the entries, but the Galipeau family certainly deserved the prize,” said judge Martha Tarr, office manager at Dead River Company.
In addition to Tarr, judges included Mike Ouellette, assistant division manager at Daigle Oil Company; Diane Greene, V.P. of the retail services office at Katahdin Trust Company; and Grace O’Neal, programmer analyst at MMG Insurance. The group set off in a limousine driven by TAMC’s Arthur Pimentel in the afternoon of Wednesday, February 26.
As the scores were tallied, it was quickly evident that the Galipeau family’s entry titled “Skiers” would be awarded the grand prize. Second place was awarded to Presque Isle Housing Authority for a giant recreation of the earth adorned with international flags. Katahdin Trust Company took third place for its patriotic snowman outside its Presque Isle location, but elected to pass it down to the fourth place entry, the Ellis family’s “Snowman with a Globe Head.”
The “Welcome the World” theme was inspired by the mass of visitors and athletes bound for The County in recent weeks for the 2014 Biathlon World Juniors Championships. Several of the entrants, especially the Galipeau family, raised the bar by incorporating elements of biathlon into the detailed sculptures.
Christa Galipeau, who submitted the registration form for the grand prize-winning entry, said that her family was inspired to shape their theme more closely around the Biathlon when her daughters, Piper and Sierra, along with friend Maddie Jackson, all fourth graders at Zippel Elementary, began learning about the upcoming event in school.
“They’ve been really excited to learn about the Biathlon. Their class has been studying France in particular. An athlete even came to visit and answer questions about the sport,” said Galipeau. “We figured this was a great way to learn as a family about the event and all of the cultures and countries that were coming to take part.”
A snowman and snow sculpture event has been a part of Winter Carnival activities at TAMC for the past few years, but this year, the concept has been taken to a new level.
“This event grew to a much larger scale than we ever originally imagined it would, and that’s a wonderful thing. Our goal was to encourage people to build snowmen that would incorporate the lifestyle and culture of the people that Northern Maine will be hosting for this event, and we are incredibly pleased at how the community has pulled through to accomplish feats above and beyond that goal,” said Eugene Curtis, director of support services at TAMC, one of the partner organizations collaborating to make the contest possible.
Winter Carnival at TAMC promotes health and wellness for TAMC employees, and all of the activities share the goal of providing an opportunity for fun physical activity and wellness education.
“The Total Health Team at TAMC is committed to encouraging a healthy lifestyle not only for the employees at TAMC, but also for the public that we serve,” said Curtis. “Winter can be a time when we stay indoors and become less active, so we are endeavoring to encourage people to get outside, be active, and enjoy the beauty of our northern Maine winters. Snow sculptures can be a lot of fun and working on them with friends, family, or co-workers can bring the added benefit of building healthy relationships, thus increasing our joy of life. TAMC is not only committed to help people to get well but to also showing them how they can live well. Our goal is to help our neighbors lead healthy, happy, and long lives. We need to enjoy the journey.”