Frozen Dead Guy Days is back

Nederland’s tradition continues with Bredo Morstoel’s 25th year

Team Hypothermia gets its coffin race on.
Photo by Barbara Lawlor

Fancy an old-fashioned coffin race? Or icy turkey bowling perhaps? Then Frozen Dead Guy Days might just be the festival for you. Starting March 7 and running through March 9, Nederland celebrates the 25th year of Bredo Morstoel on ice.

As the festival celebrates its 13th year, Nederland continues the tradition based around Morstoel, who passed away in 1989. After being sent from Norway to California to go to a cryogenics institute, Morstoel ended up packed on dry ice outside of his daughter’s house in Nederland.

When the Nederland Chamber of Commerce was looking for a way to increase tourism in 2001, it decided to capitalize on what the town was already known for and created the event, Frozen Dead Guy Days, according to the event director, Amanda MacDonald.

The festival is bringing back all the classics, along with a few new events this year.

“This year we’re having the Frozen Dead Poets Society. A local poetry group will be offering people a soap box to do their readings on and presenting readings for the dead poets,” MacDonald says.

They are also adding the Frozen Beard and Mustache contest, where the best beard and mustache get picked from the crowd, after the band Zen Mustache plays. And a Frozen Monster Remote Control Truck Demo, which entails people controlling mini helicopters.

As the event grows every year, it has successfully drawn attention to Nederland, MacDonald says.

“There’s a Japanese film crew who have made plans to come, we have a guy making a documentary from the U.K., and then there are two Norwegians coming,” she says.

With people coming in from all over, MacDonald’s biggest concern is that the weather does not intervene with the festival. In 2011 the festival drew in between 5,000 and 10,000 people, she says, but the event has closed a day early the past two years due to snow.

Weather permitting, the festival will be able to carry on its annual Hearse Parade, where people enter 15 to 20 hearses and parade them around town.

The festival is also bringing back other annual events, such as the coffin races, when teams of seven — one in the coffin and six carrying it — go through a snowy obstacle course at Chipeta Park.

Competitors, as well as audience members, dress up for the annual event, like the Alferd Packer group, the Mario Brothers and a group that dresses in pink socks, who no one seems to beat.

“The pink socks who have won four years in a row, they have to go down!” MacDonald says.

As the event grows every year, the festival has almost turned into a holiday for the people of Nederland.

In addition, there will be the Frozen T-shirt contest, the Brain Freeze contest, Icy Turkey Bowling, and the Frozen Salmon Toss.

“The story is there, but the festival itself has taken on its own life,” she says.

The family of Bredo Morstoel is separate but supportive of the event, according to MacDonald.

“Aud Morstoel, the daughter of Bredo Morstoel, was the parade marshal in the parade last time,” she says.