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Published: Saturday, 2/22/2014

Ice carvings a hit at downtown Perrysburg's Winterfest

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A completed ice sculpture watches over Louisiana Street. A completed ice sculpture watches over Louisiana Street.
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Gavin Durrant took two quick, tiny steps back in sheer excitement as the five-year-old's father pointed out a painted snow version of SpongeBob SquarePants Saturday afternoon in downtown Perrysburg.

Snow-painted designs, almost 100 ice carvings, children's activities, and live music brought Perrysburg residents out of winter hibernation to downtown Perrysburg. It was the city's sixth annual Winterfest, which for the first time showecased about two dozen competitors in the National Ice Carving Championship.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos of the event.

While Gavin loved checking out different ice carvings, including Disney's Wall-E character, the racket from the ice carvers' power tools was rough on his ears. Instead of sawdust, chainsaws spat out snowflakes. 

"Downtown Perrysburg does a good job with family-oriented things," said Gavin's father, Eric Durrant of Perrysburg Township. His wife Amanda said it was a no-brainer to take Gavin and their two-year-old, Elise, to Winterfest again. 

Clear skies and bright sun might have helped melt some ice, but Rick Thielen, Downtown Perrysburg Inc.'s executive director, said he expected the highest Winterfest attendance ever. Turnout was good Friday night to see the carvings even though high winds forced cancellation of the micro-brew tent event, he said.

Emerson Bires, 5, right, inspects a spray-painted snow sculpture. Emerson Bires, 5, right, inspects a spray-painted snow sculpture.
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Mr. Thielen said a make-up event will be planned for those with micro-brew tickets. With children's activities having long lines to see Frozen's Queen Elsa and crafts, and Louisiana Avenue packed with carving viewers, Mr. Thielen expected more than a few thousand folks downtown over the weekend.

Sunday will have a people's choice award voting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"The streets are packed and will be all day long -- that's what we want," said Chad Hartson of Ice Creations in Napoleon, which helped organize the event. "People are getting out of that cabin fever."

Mr. Hartson is also with the National Ice Carving Association, which hosted the national championship. He couldn't compete because he is a local, but has before. He said $10,000 in prizes will be paid out to competitors over the two days.

While competitors had audiences watching them carve Saturday, they were all business.

"It is a serious competition and is a big event for them," Mr. Hartson said. "They know they are putting on a show and entertaining people, but they are focused."

Carvings included a dolphin with bubbles coming out of his mouth, an alligator with a open mouth, a USA Hockey goalie, Bill Murray, and much more. They will be left on Louisiana Avenue until they melt.

Kristin Kaiser, her husband, and their three small daughters walked several blocks from home to check out the carvings.

"We like supporting local community events," she said. "It is nice to get out of the house, we've been house bound for so long."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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