Cold wrecks world record attempt for largest snowball fight

Come for the beer. Stay for the snowball fight.

That’s what organizers of the sold-out fifth annual Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival had hoped for Saturday night’s attempt to break the Guinness World Records for the world’s largest snowball fight.

But the cold weather drove people out after the four-hour craft beer sampling and live music festival ended at 7:30 p.m. The fight was scheduled for 8 p.m. on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul.

“It just got so cold that people started filing out of the event a little early, and there weren’t enough human beings to attempt the world record snowball fight,” said Joseph Alton, project director for the Beer Dabbler. “They were all welcome to participate in the snowball attempt. But folks froze out and needed to get home and warm up. That’s totally understandable.”

Nearly 10,000 people attended the festival, and at least 5,800 people needed to participate in the snowball fight to break the record of the most people throwing snowballs for one minute.

About 2,000 people made it to the snowball fight, Alton estimates, but auditors are still counting and verifying numbers of registered wristbands, he said.

Although the fight was unsuccessful, the fact that thousands showed up for the festival in below-zero temperatures and wind chills is remarkable, he said.

“The entire day was a very interesting example of Minnesota heartiness,” he said.

If organizers decide to try again on the world record, it would still be held with the winter carnival, but open to all ages — not just Beer Dabbler participants, Alton said. The Beer Dabbler operates in conjunction with the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

The unsuccessful attempt is slightly disappointing, but completely understandable, Alton said. “It was really, really cold out there,” he said. In fact, the cold weather actually caused the beer lines to freeze during the festival, for the first time ever. The festival has never taken place below 15 degrees.

Event staff ran around with propane heaters and blow torches for the beer companies to try to thaw the lines.

He and other organizers plan some kind of record-breaking challenge next year, whether it has to do with snowballs or not. They are considering breaking the record for the most people making snow angels at once.

The Beer Dabbler itself may be a record-breaking event on its own though, he said.

“We’re pretty sure it’s the largest outdoor winter beer festival in the country, or in the world, but we just don’t know that as a fact, so that would have to be verified by Guinness,” Alton said.

It would be nice to get that in the books.

Meanwhile, Seattle Snow Day holds the world record for the largest snowball fight, with 5,834 fighters.