Niles History Center, library team up for Hunter Ice Festival

Published 9:25 am Friday, January 8, 2016

The Niles District Library and Niles History Center are joining forces to present several activities during the Hunter Ice Festival, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 22-24, in Niles.

The two organizations are sponsoring a large ice sculpture that will be placed between the two buildings — adding to the dozens of hand-crafted frozen works of art that will be on display throughout downtown Niles.

Festival-goers looking for shelter from the cold can find plenty of winter-themed activities at all three venues — the Fort St. Joseph Museum and Chapin Mansion (both make up the Niles History Center) and the library.

The Fort St. Joseph Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. In addition, the first floor of the Chapin Mansion will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The History Center will offer crafts for kids and two new exhibits at the Fort St. Joseph Museum — “Michigan’s Mighty Mastodons” and “From Hunter Ice to Tyler Refrigeration: Keeping Cool in Niles.”

Christina Arseneau, history center director, said a pair of mastodon tooth fossils would be on display as well as information about other prehistoric creatures that once roamed the area, including a giant beaver that was the size of a black bear.

“People will learn a little more about the prehistory of Niles,” she said.

There will also be a scavenger hunt at the Chapin Museum Saturday, requiring people to find numerous unique decorative features throughout the mansion.

“It will give people a chance to see things they might not have noticed before,” Arseneau said.

The Niles District Library, in addition to serving as a warming station, will offer several activities of its own, including a non-traditional student art show and a Star Wars movie marathon on Saturday.

Arseneau said she hopes the library and history center, which are located next to one another, can partner for other events/projects in the future.

“Being a neighbor of the library we have a lot of potential for collaborating together,” she said. “It is a partnership we are looking forward to building on and doing it for the benefit of the community.”