The Snowking Winter Festival has released a new book ahead of this year’s festival, telling the story of the Snowcastle.
The aptly named book, The Snowcastle, comes out just in time for this year’s festival, which is also the 25th year of the icy fortress.
The book is written by Ryan “Snow Boss” McCord, a longtime volunteer with the Snowking festival, and the photographs are shot by local photographer Bill “Freeze Frame” Braden.
“I feel like this is that story in a nutshell,” said McCord. “There’s so much more that could be told to, it could be like a 500 page book.”
The book recounts the origins of the event, talks about how the Snowcastle has changed over the years as the methods of building have advanced and stories of the volunteers involved in constructing it.
McCord first got involved with the snowcastle in 2003, and has been involved in the festival most years since, acting as the slide architect – for the ice slide built into the castle – and being given the nickname “Snow Boss.”
Braden has been coming to the festival to photograph the ice structure for the last decade, earning him the nickname “Freeze Frame.”
“It is visually just so exciting. I was drawn to it – I couldn’t resist it,” said Braden.
The festival as a whole has changed this year with COVID-19 meaning the Snowcastle has no great hall this year, and no live performances.
“It’s just one giant courtyard really, with some slides in it and some other activities,” said McCord. “So it’s all open air. In a way, it’s bigger than ever, but it doesn’t have any interior spaces really at all.”
Some of the offset costs with not paying performers is going into covering the cost of admission. This year people will be allowed into the Snowcastle free of charge.
“We looked at that very carefully because we don’t want to go in the hole and we want to leave something in the bank for next year, too,” said Braden. “But I think I think we’re going to be fine, with free admission.”
Braden said festival organizers are taking donations if people want to give something.
The book is being sold by Yellowknife Book Cellar and at the Snowcastle Merch Shack.