‘An overwhelming success’: DDA sees successful Hunter Ice Festival turnout

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2023

NILES — The Hunter Ice Festival took over downtown Niles this past weekend, much to the delight of those in attendance.

The 19th annual event featured dozens of expertly carved ice sculptures from prominent artists including former NICA National Champion Aaric Kendall along with master carvers Dean DeMarais, Buchanan’s Josh Nivens and Niles native Danny Bloss will be placed around the downtown for people to view.

Guests flocked toward festival favorites like the Fire and Ice, the Frigid 5K Run, the Speed Carving Show, the Interactive Family Fun Ice Park and Ice Hill Slide and the return of Hunter Ice Cream.

Event-goers taking in the sculptures were able to shop to their heart’s content at many downtown businesses that were open during the festival. According to Niles DDA Main Street Program Manager Lisa Croteau, several downtown businesses reported record sales during the event.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Croteau said. “The community came out and had a blast. There were so many people downtown. It was an overwhelming success.”

The festival is named in honor of Henry and Lemont Hunter, who moved to Niles from Wisconsin in 1898 to open the Hunter Ice Brothers Company on Barron Lake, the first known ice business and the first industry in Howard Township, according to Niles History Center.

Croteau was happy to see the hard work of event organizers and volunteers pay off.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to see that kind of response. Everyone puts so much into it that it’s insanely rewarding to see people enjoy it.”