A Short History of the Sandstone Ice Festival

As we celebrate the 17th Annual Sandstone Ice Festival, organizers thought it would be nice to look back and share a few of the milestones of the Festival that have helped to make the event what it is today.

ice festival

Festival Milestones

2005 The First Festival. The Sandstone Ice Festival had its beginnings in the spring of 2005 when Tony Vavricka and small group of climbers approached the city of Sandstone, Minnesota to discuss the possibility of farming ice and establishing a local ice climbing festival in Robinson Park Quarry. To make ice for the festival.
Tony rented a gas powered pump and from the small pond at the base of the Main ice wall water was lifted by 70 feet to the access shelf flooding the sandstone wall below it.


2006 First ever Frozen Kettle Chili Cook-off, a tradition is born.   It all started with a couple of climbers wanting to share a warm meal. The Chili Cook-off has become an annual Ice Festival tradition.

2007 Ice Climbing Elvis makes a surprise visit to the Festival.

2009 Professional ice climber Dawn Glanc visits the festival and gives a slideshow to a packed crowd of winter sports lovers.

2010 The Sandstone Ice Festival gets a shout-out from the National Geographic Explorer Magazine.

2011 First year of the Robinson Quarry Ice Park. Organized by voluteer climbiers and supported by the city of Sandstone, city water lines are extended to create Minnesota’s first Ice Park.

2012 Ice Park expanded to add Class II ice providing access to beginner climbers. The Sandstone Ice Festival and local guide service, Hard Water Sports, are featured on WCCO’s Finding Minnesota.

2013 Sandstone Ice Festival partners with Hard Water Sports to continue to grow and promote the event.

2014 Sandstone Ice Festival celebrates ten years of Iciness.

2021 ice Festival canceled due to pandemic.

Future of the Festival

2022 and beyond, the organizers of the Sandstone Ice Festival hope to continue the tradition of providing a venue for safe climbing, to continue to promote active lifestyles and encourage green tourism to the area. With the combined efforts of the many volunteers and the support of the city of Sandstone, Minnesota – we are sure to have many more festivals.

A special thanks goes out to Hard Water Sports and the City of Sandstone MN for the support they have given to the Sandstone Ice Festival.