Enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors at Dowagiac Ice Time this Saturday

DOWAGIAC — Life-size works of art will come to life this Saturday, as the Dowagiac Ice Time Festival returns to the downtown and shop owners prepare to clear out winter merchandise.

Now in its 22nd year, the winter arts festival of the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce encourages families to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors.

Event chairman Kris Soenen said ice carvers will rev up their electric tools to transform 12,000 pounds of glistening ice into life-size crystal statues, lining downtown sidewalks.

“Carving gets underway at 8 a.m. and continues through the afternoon, when artisans compete in a timed carve off from noon to 2:30 at Beckwith Park,” she said.

Soenen said major underwriters of this year’s winter celebration are: Clark Chapel / Starks Family Funeral Home, Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union, Dowagiac Family Dentistry, Dowsett Chiropractic Health Center, Lyons Industries and SEMCO. 

Another 30 businesses have sponsored the single-block ice carvings and the competition carve-off.

“Auxiliary events are held from one end of the downtown to the other, encouraging families to enjoy the full day, roaming Dowagiac’s beautiful central business district,” Soenen said.

New this year, festival organizers are pleased to welcome the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Club of Southwestern Michigan College. Students will host a Winter Science Spectacular hands-on activity from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Front Street Crossing. 

Also located at the COA, members of Fruitbelt Wood Carvers Association will host an interactive display of their work from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Timber Sport Exhibition between forestry students from Michigan and Ohio state universities takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Commercial Street. Soenen said that area has also been dubbed The Hot Spot, where families can warm up by an open bonfire and roast s’mores, courtesy of the Dowagiac Department of Public Safety.

For those who also need to warm up their tummies, the annual Chili Crawl will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as eight of this community’s favorite restaurants vie for the title of best chili. Free samples will be served at The Baker’s Rhapsody, Beeson Street Bar & Grill, Caruso’s Candy Kitchen, Front Street Crossing, Round Oak Revisited, Wood Fire Italian Trattoria, Wounded Minnow and Zeke’s.

For children, Ice Time offers a variety of attractions throughout the day.  Beginning at 9 a.m. 1st Source Bank will host children’s activities on-site, where they can also cuddle up to Stu D. Baker, the plush-sized mascot of the South Bend Cubs. 

Also beginning at 9 a.m., they can enjoy Snowflakes in 3D, a hands-on children’s workshop at the Dowagiac Library. 

From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., a snow shuttle will take families from the downtown to the Dowagiac Area History Museum, where Miss Dowagiac Jadelyn Zimmerman and her Court of Honor will frost sugar cookies with children.

Lil’ Chippers Outside Games will be held on Commercial Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with a Winter Friends Craft at Who Knew? Consignment.

All ages are invited to grab a partner and try their hand at the Frozen Fish Toss Open Competition on Commercial Street that kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Winners will receive a gift card, courtesy of The Wounded Minnow Saloon. 

Afternoon events continue with Caruso’s ice cream eating contest at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Snowball Daddy Daughter Dance, hosted by the Young Professionals of Dowagiac, which wraps things up from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Dowagiac Middle School.

Soenen said working with her to bring the 2018 Ice Time Festival to Dowagiac has been a committee that includes employees from 1st Source Bank, Crystal Springs Campground & Retreat and Judd Lumber Co. & Rental, with in-kind donations from The Baker’s Rhapsody and Pizza Hut, which provide coffee and lunch for carvers, and Lewis-Cass Intermediate School District that provides the free shuttle.

For a detailed schedule of events visit the Chamber’s Facebook page or its website, DowagiacChamber.com.

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