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Published: Monday, 2/17/2014 - Updated: 2 years ago

Perrysburg fest to feature top ice carvers

Local artists took part in Winterfest 2013’s ice carving competition with sculptures such as this one sponsored by Stella’s & Swig in downtown Perrysburg. This year’s Winterfest begins Friday. Local artists took part in Winterfest 2013’s ice carving competition with sculptures such as this one sponsored by Stella’s & Swig in downtown Perrysburg. This year’s Winterfest begins Friday.
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Although the forecast predicts warmer temperatures this weekend, winter will be in the air in downtown Perrysburg where nearly 100 ice sculptures will be part of the National Ice Carving Championship.

The competition is being held in conjunction with Downtown Perrysburg Inc.’s Winterfest from Friday until Sunday. It brings in elite carvers from Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, New York, and Kentucky, said Ken Diederich, National Ice Carving Association executive director. The winning prize: $5,000.

“We’re so excited to have the national championship and 24 professional carvers at the top of their class,” said Rick Thielen, executive director of Downtown Perrysburg Inc. “We’ll be ready for them, the city has been clearing snow for the carvings to be displayed."

Why bring the national championship to Perrysburg? Mr. Diederich said previous ice carving competitions in Perrysburg for Winterfest have been successful in the past in terms of attendance.

“Perrysburg’s foot traffic is incredible,” he said.

The National Ice Carving Association, which has only missed two years here since 1991, one of which was last year, is hoping to hold the championships in Perrysburg again next year. Having it in one place boosts the event’s platform and audience, said Mr. Diederich, adding that they like seeing it held with another event such as Winterfest.

“It is great for this community to bring in something of this scope to town,” said Jim Hodulik, owner of Stella’s and Swig restaurants in downtown Perrysburg. “This is art. It is unbelievable what they can do.”

On Friday, the Winterfest ceremonies include watching national competitors carve sculptures from a block of ice from 6 to 8 p.m., a $15 micro-brew tasting event from 7 to 10 p.m., and live entertainment.

There will be a family fun fest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, which will include an appearance from Queen Elsa from the Disney film Frozen, Chortie the Clown, and other crafts and children’s activities. Competitors will also be carving two blocks of ice from noon to 4 p.m. From 7 to 10 p.m. there will be a wine-tasting event with live music for $35 a person.

The People’s Choice Award will be voted on from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Throughout the weekend there will also be 60 ice carvings made by Ice Creations in Napoleon for various sponsors along Louisiana Avenue. A community ice wall with engravings of names, business, and happy birthday wishes will be located near the Commodore Perry Monument along Front Street.

All the activities will be in downtown Perrysburg on Louisiana Avenue and Hood Park. It is the sixth year of Winterfest and Mr. Thielen said it has taken off in the past few years. In 2013, he estimated that several thousand came downtown to see the sculptures and they sold out both the beer and wine tasting events, at 700 tickets each.

Ryan Ross, of Napoleon’s Ice Creations, will be participating as a local contestant. Ice Creations is producing all the ice blocks for the event, and employees there aren’t concerned with the expected warmer weather.

“The ice blocks will be fine through the weekend,” said Grace Peoples, Ice Creations office manager.

The ice blocks will remain downtown until they melt.

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