Chambersburg turns into Ice land

Borough creates its own cold front with fifth annual IceFest

Borough creates its own cold front with fifth annual IceFest

February 02, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Stirring the exploding kernels vigorously with a wooden paddle, Harlan Hanson produced about 36 gallons of his Kettle Korn in just two minutes, and about one minute later made his first sale at the fifth annual Chambersburg IceFest.

"Seems like it grows every year," said the Sarver, Pa., vendor, who has been to every festival since its inception. "Two years ago when it was really cold, it was our best year."

Cold is what the sponsors - Downtown Chambersburg Inc., the Downtown Business Council and the Council for the Arts - want for the next three days. On a February weekday after about 5 p.m., the sidewalks of downtown Chambersburg can be pretty empty, but a few hundred people were ambling up and down Main Street Thursday night watching some of the giant ice sculptures take shape under the hands of artists from DiMartino Ice of Jeannette, Pa.


"I really think we're going to hit 15,000 (people) between now and Sunday night," said Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc.

The weather forecast for chilly conditions is a welcome change from 2006, when rain and unseasonably warm temperatures melted the details off the ice sculptures.

Jared McAlister of DiMartino Ice used a clothing iron to fix a paper template to a stack of ice blocks that would become a lighthouse with a sea serpent and a man in a row boat. He explained that the templates are made by hanging newsprint on a wall, projecting an image onto it and then tracing the image onto the paper.

The paper is placed against the blocks and then ironed, the heat melting the ice enough for the template to adhere. Sculptors dig into the blocks with electric chain saws to do the rough work before carving the details with other tools.

It can take a dozen or more 250-pound blocks of ice to make some of the sculptures, and the largest of the eight is about 9 feet tall, McAlister said. He made a rough calculation that the large sculptures and 57 smaller ones sponsored by local businesses are made up of almost 13 tons of ice.

The crowds the figures attract should be good news for downtown retailers, who sometimes can find business slow in the dead of winter.

"It's in the thousands," said Bill Earley of Twice Read Books. "We wouldn't have those kinds of numbers without IceFest."

Vendors such as Hanson and eateries downtown will have plenty of hot chow to keep chilled visitors warm, an exception being Dairy Princess Sarah Signore, who was handing out icy strawberry and orange smoothies.

For those wishing something hotter, Saturday offers the Chili Cook-off at Central Presbyterian Church on Memorial Square. Professional and amateur teams will vie for cash prizes.

A panel of judges will do a blind taste test to determine the winners in each division, but the public also can declare their favorites by making donations to the teams of nonprofit groups.

Linda Golden said her team representing the Franklin County Therapeutic Riding Center is cooking up 20 gallons of chili in hopes of raising some money for the equine riding program for those with physical and learning disabilities.

It's going to be c-c-cold

Snow flurries are in the forecast today, with the temperature expected to hit 37 degrees. The weather will turn colder Saturday and Sunday, with high temperatures forecast to be 29 degrees on Saturday and 20 degrees on Sunday. See weather, B2.

If you go

What: IceFest

When: Today through Sunday

Where: Chambersburg, Pa.

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