Annual event captures ‘magic’ of ice

Published 10:43 am Thursday, February 6, 2014

St. Joseph will host ice carvers at their NICA-sanctioned event this weekend. (Submitted photo)

St. Joseph will host ice carvers at their NICA-sanctioned event this weekend. (Submitted photo)

ST. JOSEPH—The City of St. Joseph is promising their biggest and best Magical Ice Fest on the weekend of Feb. 7 through 9. This will be the tenth year that the city will host the event.

“We’re really excited for this year’s ice festival,” said Jill Stone, executive director of St. Joseph Today. “It’s one of our biggest events of the year, and we expect to have the perfect weather for it.”

The weekend’s events will actually get started with the Waikiki Weekend Family Fun Night on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. at the Silver Beach Carousel and Shadowland Ballroom at 333 Broad St.

“It’s a very Hawaiian theme down there, and that’s a fun thing to do that you don’t find at all of the other ice festivals,” Stone said.

Activities will include Dora the Explorer-themed games and activities, surf music, hula lessons and $1 carousel rides. Waikiki Weekend events are scheduled to run throughout the weekend, and more information on those can be found at

Another weekend-long activity is the Snow Biz Scavenger Hunt. Visitors can pick up a scavenger hunt form at St. Joseph Today, 301 State St., and then hunt for more than 20 sculptures with items frozen inside. Once all the sculptures are found and recorded, the form can be returned to enter a prize drawing.

The first ice carving event scheduled for the weekend is the Friday evening competition that will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. This individual competition has traditionally been held on the Sunday of the festival.

“We have 12 carvers lined up, and it’s a nationally certified event,” Stone said. “In our neck of the woods, we are the only ice festival that is a National Ice Carving Association-certified competition. The carvers earn points in these competitions, and those get tallied up. So, needless to say, they take it very seriously.”

Friday’s competition will include two former world-champion ice carvers.

Once that competition has ended, the Magical Ice Festival will be bringing back an event that has been very popular in the past.

“After the Friday competition, we’re having our Fire and Ice event. It will be a fire encased in ice, right on State St.,” Stone said. “We did this in the past, and we’re bringing it back because it’s so cool.”

That display will take place at 8 p.m. at the corner of State and Pleasant Streets.

A Fire and Ice Reception will then be held at the Shadowland Ballroom from 8 p.m. until midnight. Live music, a martini ice luge and fire dancers will liven up the event. While most of the weekend’s events will be free, admission to this particular reception will be $10, but ladies will be admitted free until 9 p.m.

The team carving competition will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and continue until 4 p.m. Sculptors will carve blocks of ice all along downtown State St.

“We’re going to have a bigger Saturday competition this year,” Stone said. “In the past, we’ve had a four-block competition, but this year we’re expanding it to eight blocks. That means that the sculptures can be twice the size of last year’s.”

The festival’s Second Annual Ice Wars will also take place on Saturday, running from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Teams of professional carvers will engage in 15-minute ice carving duels.

“Another event we’ve added this year is the 5K run at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, put on by a local runners’ group, the Sunset Coast Striders,” Stone said.

Stone said downtown restaurants and bars will be serving a variety of foods and beverages to help visitors keep warm as they view the competitions and finished sculptures. Local merchants will be open, offering sales and special promotions.

“Saturday is the big day,” Stone said. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of people attend, and they have a great time every year.”