Snegurochka's Castle was KGB's 2002 Carnival Booth, themed after the Russian fairy tale of Снегурочка, the snow maiden. It took fourth place in the independent category.
History and Organization
Embittered over close and not-so-close defeats in recent years, KGB decided to skip Booth in 2001. Four-year turnover and a large infusion of new blood in 2000 meant that by the next year, well over half the organization had never participated in a booth; the decision was finalized when CorSec Sean "Teki" Dobbs volunteered to serve as Booth Chair. Ultimate responsibility for the booth was never quite clear: there was some sort of crazed power-sharing system which purported to split the responsibility between construction (Teki and Mym) and visual design (kconnors and mid, who were roommates at the time), and Dred Uncle Pennybags holding the purse-strings, but the lines of authority were blurry, and communication was poor. As a result, some design decisions were made by last-minute fiat on Midway, and these frequently did not agree with earlier plans; examples include the decision to paint the interior of the booth to resemble castle-stones and the failure to implement an attractive interior for the tower.
The character of snegurochka (the snow maiden) appears in several traditional Russian fairy tales; as a folk tale, of course, there is no single traditional telling, but nearly all versions result in her melting somehow. Since we hadn't chosen a canonical version of the story yet, and since it was clear that this would be of moderate importance to the booth, rjmccall decided to write one. The result was a bit long, and the judges evidently didn't believe that we told the story to whoever came by, but we really did make an effort to do so; Nat Manista was the prince of this. The story can be read here.
Structure and Design
The booth was meant to resemble a castle enclosed in a snow-globe. Structurally, it featured a 15-foot circular tower (diameter ~6ft, height ~15ft, conical ceiling) in the rear-left corner. A straight line of steps led up through an enclosed hallway to the tower from the "street", and uncovered steps then led down along the rear and right walls into the courtyard. The right wall of the booth gently curved over to become the front wall of the booth, and the exit door was set in the center of the curve. The courtyard was paved with a layer of white gravel directly upon the asphalt; a "dome" of copper piping supporting a thin cloth mesh rose up from the courtyard walls and enclosed the entire space (except the tower). The structural components of the booth were "adapted" from the previous year's Fringe (?) booth, though of course they were built from scratch. I believe KGB no longer has any of the curved wall sections, although some of the flat wall sections remain in the cage and still see use in booths; these can be distinguished by the various Russian names (predominantly feminine)* written inside them as identification, as well as by their thin paneling, which is considerably lighter than the plywood used for most wall sections. Sections of stairs from the Castle also remain and have been extensively reused.
*Fun Fact: Natalya, a sturdy, straight, and loyal piece of 2x4 was still being used as structural wood in 2011 for The Phantom Tollbooth.
The entire exterior of the booth was painted to resemble a castle; this was done by giving the walls a simple base coat, then sponge-painting rocks and mortar onto the surface in several shades of grey. The technique (which actually used scraps of paper towel rather than sponges) was proposed by lmarsh; it was carried out mostly by rjmccall with various assistants. The effect was reasonably nice for the exterior of the castle, if somewhat muted and labor-intensive; however, the decision to paint the interior of the courtyard in the same style was probably a mistake, carried out mostly because time was running short and no-one on Midway knew how to paint anything better. Additionally, the entire exterior of the booth was painted, even the wall which faced another booth (KGB's plot was at the end of a single row, so painting the other walls was conceivably justified). The interior of the entrance hallway was lined with a dark fabric and was (as I recall) somewhat claustrophobic. The interior of the tower was painted in several coats of primer, but never (I believe) given a real coat of paint, and the ceiling and stairs were not completely painted before Midway opened; the intent was that there would be extensive decorations here, but they were not completed in time. All of this I bring up, not to lay individual fault anywhere, but to drive home the importance of planning and communication.
The roof was covered in tar paper, which was obnoxious to lay, obnoxious to keep in place, and extremely attractive (for a roof). Take this as you will.
The design document submitted to Carnival Committee for Snegurochka's Castle contained the second-most number of CAD drawings out of all the booths that year – with the most being for a blitz booth.
The game was a 5x5 grid of square blocks; blocks in the second and fourth rows and columns could slide freely, and at any given time there were several (one?) free blocks not on the board. Blocks were marked with paths connecting two or three of the edges, and the goal was to create a clear path from one corner of the grid to the opposite corner. Players had either two or three moves (for adults and children, respectively), each of which consisted of pushing a free block in any orientation along one of the sliding rows, which would then cause a block to fall off the other end, producing a new free block. This game was adapted from a toy puzzle game whose name escapes me.
A traditional worksong, penned by an anonymous laborer on Snegurochka's Castle, has come down to us in part; some of the lyrics have been irrevocably lost, at least until they're found again. The song begins thus:
Now I've got scalene triangles on my shoulders, And my friend is carrying a trapezoid.
| Succeeded by|
The Winter Palace