Shipshewana festival offers cool activities

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Shipshewana Ice Festival, a three-day event from Wednesday through Dec. 30, showcases the highest concentration of large ice sculptures (with 10 blocks of ice or more used) between Indiana and Alaska.

Professional carvers begin early on Wednesday by carving their ice blocks as commissioned by local businesses to themed designs of their choice. With the carving beginning around 10 a.m., the sculptors will work well into the early evening.

On Thursday, the same carvers show off their skills in a carving competition, again downtown near the Davis Mercantile. The public is also invited to enter a snowman-building contest. If Mother Nature hasn’t provided the snow, a snowmaking machine will fulfill the need.

Then on Friday, snowmobile races and a chili cook-off with 10 or more local chefs will kick off at 10 a.m. at the Town Center, located on State Road 5/Van Buren Street, two blocks south of the flea market. In the past, the snowmobile races have run into the evening hours and gather a large crowd of observers.

“This event just gets bigger and better,” said Levi King, originator of the event and owner of several Shipshewana shops. “One year, an ice carver sculpted a baby grand piano. He even had the piano propped open. This year, I’m told flames will burn in some of the sculptures.”

“Many people in the Amish community attend this event,” said Jay Chupp, a local resident.  “They especially enjoy the snowmobile races. They like to have fun like everybody else does.”

“The kids are still on holiday vacation, and gifts have all been unwrapped, so you’re looking for something to do. This unique event is sure to etch some great family memories onto everyone’s minds,” said Beth Thornburg, director of the LaGrange County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“People tend to stay indoors in the wintertime,” said King, “and they end up feeling depressed or sad. The Ice Festival is intended to help people have a great time, enjoy winter and have fun in Shipshewana.”

Call (800) 254-8090 for information or visit