Archived Story

Chili crawl warms Up ‘Ice’ Feb. 6

Published 9:30am Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Not everything at Dowagiac’s Ice Time Festival this Saturday is about the cold.

Festivalgoers will find that one of the event’s most popular activities, the Professional Chili Cook-off at downtown restaurants, will warm their insides, stock their bodies with healthy nutrients and even boost their moods.

Hosted by Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, Ice Time returns to the central business district on Saturday, Feb. 6, as artisans carve 20,000 pounds of ice into life-size works of art along Front, Commercial and Beeson streets.

The winter event is underwritten by Lyons Industries, Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union, Dowsett Chiropractic Health Center, Kemner-Iott Agency of Cass County, Yazel and Clark Funeral Chapel, City’s Pure Ice of LaPorte, Ind., and Wal-Mart of Niles.

Festival Chairman and Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Timothy Dowsett has found restaurateurs eager to enter the Professional Chili Cook-off, yet very secretive when it comes to the one or two special ingredients that go into these award-winning recipes.

He said competing chefs will provide free taste-testing of sample-size portions from 1 to 4 p.m.

Kicking off this year’s new decade of competition are Sandra Kiggins and Kaye Rogers, who are teaming up at Dowagiac Eagles on Railroad Street, to take on the reigning champion, Beeson Street Bar and Grill and Judy Briney.

Competitors also include Wood Fire Italian Trattoria, along with Zeke’s Restaurant’s Greg Schell and Wounded Minnow Saloon’s Curt Stelmasiak.

Whether it’s mild, hot, meaty or juicy, festivalgoers can be assured it’s likely to be one of the healthiest entrees they consume.

Once thought of by the health conscious as a greasy, fat-filled meal, today’s chili is a wonderful dish of nutrients for your body, which is a perfect choice for today’s healthy diets.

Families who take the chili crawl, as locals call it, are sure to enjoy this vitamin and mineral boost.

Today’s chili is a great source of protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins A and C.
Capsaicin, which is found in chile that chefs use to flavor their recipes, increases metabolic rate and triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins, which raises your mood level.

It can also help you curb your appetite, regulate blood sugar and ease a stuffy nose.
“If one of your resolutions for this year is to lose a few pounds, or if you’ve been battling a head cold, not only will Ice Time’s chili crawl warm you up, it will also make you healthier and happier,” Dowsett said.

Also beginning at 1 p.m. is the Professional Ice Carving Competition at Beckwith Park, where artisans compete for $1,600 in cash awards.

Ice Time’s competition sculptures are being underwritten this year by: Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, Dr. Charles Burling and Dr. Jon Gillesby, Eckman Chiropractic Clinic, Family Fare, Lyons Industries, Preferred Printing, Subway, Wightman and Associates Inc. of Benton Harbor, Who Knew? Consignment and Zeke’s Restaurant.

Families will also enjoy viewing timber and wood carving demonstrations and seeing a blacksmith artist who specializes in the design and artistic hand-forging of wrought iron.
This year’s silent art auction features a timber-carved moose and an Indian wearing a headdress, carved from two four-foot logs.

Fruitbelt Wood Carvers’ exhibition will be held at what organizers are calling Carvers’ Cave, located within the Front Street entrance to Round Oak Restaurant.

Ice Time also features the seventh annual Winter Hibernation Sale and the Ladies Library Association winter book sale, along with the sale of Girl Scout cookies by Troops 738 and 739 of Dowagiac.

Popular events feature an outdoor soda fountain carved from 800 pounds of ice, from which Caruso’s will serve ice cream and what last year became the event’s  “hot spot” on Commercial Street, where the city Department of Public Safety prepared s’mores for festival goers over an open campfire.

Children will enjoy Caruso’s ice cream eating contest, the miniature snow sculpture workshop with the Miss Dowagiac court and the children’s ice art exhibition at Who Knew? Consignment.

Business sponsors of 23 single-block ice carvings that will be situated along Front and Commercial streets are:  Booth’s Country Florist and Gifts, Matthew Cripe Dental PC, Cass County Council on Aging, Dogwood Fine Arts Festival, Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union, Dowagiac District Library and its Ladies Library Association, Dowagiac Rotary Club, Dowsett Chiropractic Health Center, Farm Bureau Insurance, Hale’s Hardware, Harding’s Friendly Market, Image Publications, Imperial Furniture, Lyons Industries, The Marshall Shoppe and Jim D’s Body Shop, Mennel Milling Co. of Michigan, Meridian Title Co., Oh My, Southwestern Michigan College, Vincent J. Jewelers, Wounded Minnow Saloon and Yazel and Clark Funeral Chapel.

To receive a complete schedule of events, call the Chamber of Commerce at (269) 782-8212.

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