Hunter Ice Festival carves out schedule of eventsPublished 10:01am Monday, December 28, 2009
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
Even though Christmas is over and the holiday season is winding down, winter activities are far from over in Niles.
The Hunter Ice Festival, now in its sixth year, will take place Jan. 15-17 with events taking place throughout downtown Niles.
Ice carvers from across the country will sculpt over 25 tons of ice over the weekend.
Among the ice carving competitors this year will be Buddy Rasmussen, a world-class ice carver who was recently featured on the Learning Channel. Other master carvers from Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Ohio and Indiana will be on hand.
Event organizer Lisa Croteau said the level of ice carving is outstanding at the festival.
“The sculptures are absolutely amazing,” she said. “Last year three gold medals were awarded by NICA (National Ice Carving Association) at the festival. To give you an idea of the accomplishment, only 286 medals were awarded from 1986 to 2009.”
Besides the usual attractions – like professional ice carving competitions, chili cookoff, wine and beer tasting and of course, Hunter ice cream – a couple new events will take place this year.
Friday’s festivities will feature a new murder mystery theater dinner put on by the Four Flags Players from 7 to 9:30 p.m. A “Frigid 5K Run,” sponsored by Cycle and Fitness, will take place Saturday.
Croteau estimates the festival draws between 10,000-12,000 people to Niles throughout the weekend.
The festival also has received press coverage from publications in Chicago, Detroit and cities in Ohio. Midwest Living Magazine is also running a feature on the festival.
The event is named after the Hunter Ice Co., which was an ice harvesting and ice cream business on Barron Lake in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although the original recipe for Hunter Ice Co. is unknown, Penn State University, which has the largest educational program on ice cream manufacturing, has supplied the festival with a formula for ice cream of 1910.
“It’s very rich and heavy in the cream and butter department,” Croteau said.
Schedule of Events
Festival Kick-off – Ice arrives and is set throughout town.
Fire and Ice – “Live Performance Ice Sculpting” with Dan Rebholz, world-class ice sculptor from Chicago, north end of Riverfront Park, 6 to 7 p.m.
Murder Mystery Michigan Dinner in the tasting tent – Niles’ Four Flags Players perform a Murder Mystery with Buffet Michigan Foods Dinner prepared by local restaurants from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Cost is $40 at the door or $25 online advance sale. Dinner ticket includes one drink. Bar will be open serving Michigan Wines and Beers. Limit 150 tickets. The event will be held in the City Parking lot at northwest corner of Main and Front streets.
Welcome Piece at Fifth and Main Streets on Main are carved – 9:30 p.m.
Frigid 5k Run – times to be announced
IceMasters Multi- block Five Piece Competition Sculpture – carved by a world class/national champion ice carver with People’s Choice Judging, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. prominent corners throughout downtown Niles.
History and Ice Carving/ Harvesting Exhibit – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Niles District Library, 517 East Main
Professional Carving Competition with NICA sanctioned judging – noon to 3 p.m., Riverfront Park Parking Lot between Sycamore and Ferry streets.
Hunter Tasting Tent opens – includes family friendly foods with Hunter Ice Cream Sundae Bar, hot dogs, hot pretzels, noon to 3 p.m.
Hunter Wine and Beer Tasting – Signature event with wine from local vineyards, plus beers and DiVine Vodka from Round Barn Winery & Distillery, along with Hunter Ice Cream sundae bar and more, 3 to 9 p.m., city parking lot, northwest corner of Main and Front streets. Live music after 7 p.m. Cost is $12 at the door, $10 advance sale.
Live performance by Ice Carving IceMasters – 7 to 8:30 p.m., Riverfront Park Amphitheater.
NICA Masters Carving Competition with judging by NICA sanctioned judges – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Riverfront Park Parking Lot between Sycamore and Ferry streets.
Niles Chili Cook-off with Chili and Beer, noon to 3 p.m., city parking lot at northwest corner of Main and Front streets.
Awards Ceremony – 4 p.m., tasting tent. Public welcome for $8 at the door, $5 advance sale.
Throughout the Festival
Two 30-foot sledding hills – weather permitting. Sleds provided at Riverfront Park throughout the weekend.
Welcome Center and Warming Station – kids’ activities include face painting, crafts and annual Clothesline Art Show. All kids are invited to draw a picture to be displayed in the Clothesline Art Show. Open throughout the festival.
Hunter Ice Festival Photography Contest – www.huntericephoto.googlepages.com. Prizes of $100, $75 and $50.
For more information, contact Lisa Croteau, Niles DDA Main Street, (269) 687-4332 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.nilesmainstreet.org or www.huntericefestival.com.