Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Our trip to Texas last fall for the National Milk Producers Association's Young Cooperators Program brought us to the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, which claimed to be the Christmas Capital of Texas. And our hotel, it seemed, spared no expense in capitalizing on this claim. When we arrived at our hotel, the grounds were swarming with workers putting up Christmas lights (we later found out the display included 1.5 million lights) and there was a gigantic sign next to the driveway which announced "3 Days until ICE!"

The flyer we received at check-in announced the upcoming grand opening of the ICE! exhibit, but offered no description of the event and all the hotel concierge would tell us was, "Oh, you just have to see it to believe it."

So, for the next couple days as we traveled through the convention center's atria, we watched workers setting up Christmas decorations and sprinkling fake snow everywhere, thinking, "You'd think it's the week before Christmas in here, but it's not even Thanksgiving yet! What exactly is this ICE! hoopla all about?"

The day before the grand opening of ICE!, we finally heard our first explanation of what the exhibit featured. A Texan dairyman at our convention told us: "They chill this tent and fill it with two million pounds (literally) of sculpted, painted ice. They keep the tent at nine degrees. Oh, you should really go if you're going to be here when it opens. By next week, there will be people waiting in line for three hours to enter."

We were intrigued. When we got back to our room that night we called to inquire about tickets for ICE! The tickets were 23 dollars a person. We decided that 46 dollars was too much to spend to see ice. After all, we didn't go to Texas to don winter coats and ogle over ice. We have nearly six months to do that here in Minnesota.

Our reasoning was easy enough to understand. When we were asked the next day by another Texan if we were going to ICE!, all I had to say was, "Well, we're from Minnesota –"

"– Oh, I understand," he said before I could even explain.

I've found myself thinking quite a bit over the last couple weeks, with the ice storm in January and now this snow event, about the novelty of ice in Texas and their "green" Christmas. Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky to live in a place graced with the beauty of winter. Or maybe we should just start selling tickets.

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