3rd Annual Rockford Ice Festival set for January 13-15

Event organizers plan full weekend of family fun

Ice miniature golf holes are a popular attraction during Rockford’s annual Ice Festival.

What does a mini Mackinaw Bridge that lights up, an old-fashioned water wheel, a giant ice beaver, a momma polar bear and her cubs, ice cream sundaes, dancing and entertainment, chainsaws, nail polish, animated movie characters, and World Records have in common?

ICE—as in the 3rd Annual Rockford Ice Festival, to be held January 13-15, 2012. As the New Year unfolds, picturesque downtown Rockford will be transformed into a vision of ice, offering winter wonderland fun for folks of all ages and stages.

Just imagine, a gigantic ice cream sundae ice bar serving up tasty treats while competing for a world record… chainsaw-wielding ice carvers transforming huge blocks of ice into amazing sculptures… miniature ice golf… interactive ice games… a scavenger hunt throughout the town to locate dozens of sculptures… snow wall art… ice skating… a food drive… music and entertainment… hot cocoa and contests… voting for best of show… a throwback Ice Festival Ball… bustling shops offering festival fare and fun… and thousands of guests discovering downtown Rockford’s Norman Rockwell-like charm and enchantment.

The 3rd Annual Rockford Ice Festival promises to be bigger and better than last year, which is not an easy act to follow. Randy Finch and his team from www.icegurus.com (stars of the Food Network’s “Ice Brigade” series) are on board for carving demonstrations, as well as pre-carving the scavenger hunt and showstopper ice sculptures. Area culinary students also will showcase their ice-carving talents.

Meredith Gremel, event manager, noted, “We are thrilled to have the support of the Rockford businesses to make this free, family fun event possible. So often we find ourselves telling family and friends, ‘Let’s get together after the holidays.’ Well, here’s the perfect opportunity to do so, whether friends live across town or across state. We love showcasing Rockford—its wonderful shopping and dining district, school system, City and Chamber services, natural beauty and outdoor activities along the Rogue River, and most of all, the great people who live here and volunteer throughout the year to make our community extra special.”

Festive features include:

• Friday, Jan. 13—Inaugural Ice Festival Ball—a ticketed event to benefit the Rockford Area Arts Commission, to be held at Blythefield Country Club. The event includes a three-course dinner, band, dancing, magic show, “Dancing with the Stars”-type dance demonstration, and childcare provided at the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA. For tickets, e-mail to info@artsrockford.com or visit www.artsrockford.org.

• Saturday, Jan. 14, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Downtown Rockford—Carving demonstrations: Herman’s Boy, 220 Old Northland Drive, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Reds on the River outdoor deck, from noon to 4 p.m. (be the first to guess what the sculpture is and win a Reds gift card); Corner Bar, 31 N. Main St., from 1 to 3 p.m.; Rockford Welcome Center parking lot, Squires St. Square, noon to 2 p.m.—help set a new world record for the largest ice cream sundae bar, compliments of Spartan Stores and Rockford D&W Fresh Market; ice miniature golf holes, Garden Park, adjacent to the Rockford dam; ice interactive games; scavenger hunt throughout town to locate all the ice sculptures; music and entertainment provided by members of the Rockford Area Arts Commission, gazebo west of Rockford dam; ice skating and snow sculpting, weather dependent; free hot cocoa in the Rockford Rotary Pavilion, donations accepted to benefit the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA Strong Kids scholarships; photo contest, prize and bragging rights, Green Frog Photo to judge contest; vote for best mini golf hole design, two winners, people’s choice award and media judges from On the Town magazine, 100.5 The River, The Rockford Squire, grnow.com, and others; guess the melt date and how many frozen objects contests; prizes for contest winners; festival fare and promotions offered by sponsoring downtown businesses.

• Sunday, Jan. 15, noon to 3 p.m., Rockford Rotary Pavilion, Downtown Rockford, carving demonstration, sponsored by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and HEART of Rockford Business Association (12:30 to 2:30 p.m.); ice miniature golf holes, Garden Park, adjacent to the Rockford dam; ice interactive games; scavenger hunt throughout town to locate all the ice sculptures; music and entertainment provided by members of the Rockford Area Arts Commission, gazebo west of Rockford dam; ice skating and snow sculpting, weather dependent; can drive in the Rockford Rotary Pavilion to benefit the North Kent Community Services; chili bar, Reds outdoor deck for take-out service, indoor seating for chili bar and beverages, 12 to 3 p.m., vote for your favorite chili and be entered to win prizes; photo contest, prize and bragging rights, Green Frog Photo to judge contest; vote for best mini golf hole design, two winners, people’s choice award and media judges from On the Town magazine, 100.5 The River, The Rockford Squire, grnow.com, and others; guess the melt date and how many frozen objects contests; prizes for contest winners; festival fare and promotions offered by sponsoring downtown businesses; restaurants and stores open on Sunday; plus all the ice sculptures stay put until Mother Nature does away with them, so visitors are encouraged to return and see how the ice is holding up.

The Rockford Ice Festival is a free, family fun festival made possible by the support and sponsorship of multiple organizations. It was founded in 2010 by Reds on the River in Rockford. Ice sculpting is a discipline of the culinary arts. Reds’ Executive Chef Glenn Forgie recalls fondly his days growing up in Plymouth, Mich., and visiting his hometown’s ice festival. In 2010, the festival featured a ballet ice dancer carving on Reds’ deck, a 10-foot horse and carriage sculpture sponsored by the City of Rockford, three miniature golf holes and a handful of sculptures sponsored by area businesses, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, and the HEART of Rockford business association. The festival drew over 4,000 visitors and provided a boost to the town’s slower winter economy.

In 2011, the festival was featured as part of the Food Network’s “Ice Brigade” series, starring Randy Finch and his talented team at Ice Sculptures LTD (www.iceguru.com). The festival grew to a full nine-hole golf course, additional onsite carvings, and 33 sculptures including showstopper sculptures sponsored by the City of Rockford (three gigantic “ice” fish) and an eight-foot ice sculpture of a boy fishing from a tree (sponsored by Trendwell Energy). The festival drew nearly 10,000 visitors from throughout Michigan and the Midwest.

Festival details, sponsors and activities continue to be added, so for up-to-the-minute details, check out www.rockfordicefestival.com or the Rockford Ice Festival page on Facebook.

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