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Fire & Ice Carving Festival slated for January 26-27 in Columbia City


(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano) YAIA members helped place signs for the upcoming Fire & Ice Festival around Columbia City Saturday morning.  YAIA members above, from left, are Eddie Beagles and Scott Wagner. Below, at right, is YAIA member Erik Fearnow placing a sign near South Main and Chicago streets.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Bundled up to their eyes with heavy scarves, eager onlookers of all ages will meander around the Whitley County Courthouse January 26-27 as they view the elaborate ice sculptures carefully crafted by carvers in the region. And then, to warm up, this year attendees will have the opportunity to sample local residents' favorite chili recipes. Indeed, many are looking forward to the annual Fire & Ice Festival in downtown Columbia City.

As part of the many preparations taking place locally for this major festival event, several members of the Young Adults in Action (YAIA) of Whitley County spent time Saturday morning placing signs around the city.

The third annual event in downtown Columbia City is a joint effort between the Columbia City Chamber of Commerce and the Whitley County Council on Aging -- the latter of which is adding the heat this year with a Chili cookoff event on Sunday afternoon.

Ice carvers from several states will convene in downtown Columbia City to carve massive blocks of ice into frigid masterpieces for the community to enjoy. Approximately 12 carvers are expected to participate in this year's event, competing for $600 in cash prizes. The ice carving competition will be held from noon-3 p.m. on January 27 on the Whitley County Courthouse lawn. Attendees will be invited to select a people's choice winner.

Those interested in seeing carvers work on exhibition pieces will find plenty to see after 8 a.m. on January 26 on the courthouse lawn. The carvers will complete pieces commissioned by local businesses and organizations. Each sculpture will be available for the public to view around the courthouse lawn. Last year's sculptures lasted several weeks thanks to the cold temperatures.

The ice carving element of the festival is coordinated each year by Stan and Doris Horne of Churubusco.

Blocks of ice are still available for purchase and may be carved to represent your company's logo or your personal interests. To inquire about purchasing a block of ice, contact the Columbia City Chamber of Commerce at 248-8131.

The Whitley County Council on Aging will warm everyone up with a chili cookoff with proceeds benefiting the Senior Center building project. Participants will compete for cash prizes or a trophy in addition to bragging rights. Visitors can sample the chili for $5 per person.

Those interested in sharing their favorite chili recipes are asked to register by January 18 by calling Marie Hockemeyer at 799-4048 or the Whitley County Council on Aging at 248-8944.

Leadership Whitley County volunteers will sell hand warmers to keep your mits toasty as you walk around and enjoy the festival. There is no charge to attend the festival. Additionally, a warming tent is being provided this year.



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