As a follow up to yesterday’s request for information about trends in Trivia participation over the last 20 years, I want to revisit the topic of snow sculptures, already covered in some detail here. (Note especially David Nickerson’s description of the mid 1990’s.) For now, I want to focus on this claim:

As I recall (and it’s really sad that I’m not sure about this), Sage F took the snow sculpture prize during Winter Carnival ’03. Our entry, Fire and Ice, featured an entire living room set, including sofa, coffee table, and a stone fireplace with icicle flames. We were up against 4 or 5 other groups, I think, some of which were pretty good. We started the night before, and must have had at least 7 people put in a good 8 hours.

My first question: Is this accurate? The Record reports that Sage F did indeed win in 2003, but does not mention how many other teams participated. If, in fact, 5 or 6 teams did make serious efforts, then this would be consistent with my memories of 1984-1988. That is, there might have been years when there were 10 real sculptures, but there were certainly never as many as 15.

Second question: Was 2003 an outlier year? If so, why were there so many sculptures then? Good snow and nice weather presumably played a part.

My big picture question: Is there any good evidence that snow sculpture participation was lower from, say, 2002 to 2005 then it was 10 or 20 years ago? I guess that I am really looking for testimony from someone that has been judging it that long. Who would that be?

In terms of other reading, the WOC history is fairly interesting. It claims that there were typically 15 sculptures made during the fraternity and house dining era (with a keg going to the winning house), but that “Snow sculptures have, unfortunately, become scarce in the last two decades.”

I am always ready to grant that, in a world of fraternities, there is much more house bonding and camraderie. I would not be surpised to see this cohesiveness manifested in something like snow sculptures. I am deeply suspicious, however, of claims that there was a lot of house pride during the affiliation era of the 1980’s. Outside of some row houses and, perhaps, Dodd, there wasn’t.

So, what evidence is there that snow sculpture participation is down signficantly from the 1980’s?

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