Chainsaws, music, laughter fill the air on second day of ice festival
Chilly and cloudy, but not uncomfortable made for a perfect weather report Saturday as thousands of residents and visitors attended the eighth annual Carved in Ice festival.
Dozens of intricate ice carvings in Diamond Park that were sponsored by area businesses showed signs of succumbing to the 51-degree day, but Kristen Kane, event coordinator, was not worried.
“It’s a little warm, but it’s chilly enough,” Kane said. “(The ice carvings) will hold up throughout the event.”
Dena Martinez, event chairwoman, said smaller ice sculptures could not be set out due to the temperatures, but more people were expected to attend because of the mild weather.
She said six alcohol vendors; 15 food trucks; several free kids activities in the Holly Pointe building; the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile; free cornhole; fire tables and fire pits placed throughout the festival; a chili cookoff; a hot dog eating contest; and other features of Carved In Ice brought out everyone who was suffering from cabin fever and was ready to have some fun.
“It’s nice to get out of the house in February,” Martinez said. “We are so happy Butler supports our event and we appreciate all the businesses that make it possible.”
New this year was the “Carved In Icing” competition at the Butler Art Center, in which those with a sweet tooth paid $5 to sample goodies from four local bakeries.
They then vote on which sweets they thought were best.
Also new this year was the presence of Friends of the Bantam Jeep. Volunteers brought about a dozen Jeeps to the festival for people to peruse.
Stephen Shiring and Bob Paroli, Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival committee members, said the group brought the Jeeps to promote the festival, raise awareness of Butler’s status as home of the Jeep’s invention and to support Carved In Ice.
Michael Grosse, of Butler, brought his children to Carved in Ice, and his daughter, Kezia, 10, particularly enjoyed one ice carving near the fountain in Diamond Park.
“(The festival is) really amazing, and I like the slide,” she said of the sliding board made completely of ice.
She said having events like Carved in Ice is important for the people of Butler.
“People can come and enjoy their families and the time they have with them,” Kezia said.
Her brother, Aizek, 12, said his favorite ice carving was Abraham Lincoln, as he is a history buff who particularly enjoys reading about the Civil War.
Their father tries to bring his kids to Carved In Ice every year to observe the intricate and sparkling carvings.
“I think it’s just a good way for the kids to appreciate art in a different medium than what they’re used to,” Michael said. “There’s a certain fragility to it.”
Tina Claypoole, of Butler, has enjoyed Carved In Ice for the last two years with her little daughter, Olivia, 2.
“It gives families something to do,” said Claypoole.
She also visited the festival on Friday night, where she sat on her favorite carving, the angel-sing chair.
“Last night, that thing was huge,” Claypoole said of the slightly more diminutive chair.
Hannah Galbreath, of Butler, attended her second Carved In Ice festival Saturday.
Her favorite carving was the St. Bernard dog, sponsored by Whispering Winds Boarding Kennel.
“I like to see what organizations participate,” Galbreath said.
She said festivals like Carved In Ice are good for Butler.
“It increases community involvement and gets people from outside of the city to come in,” Galbreath said.
Kimberly Scialdone, of Pittsburgh, was feeling emotional at the event as she carried around pictures of her late mother with the Weinermobile in various locations where the unusual and popular vehicle has stopped over the years.
“We saw it in so many cities,” Scialdone said. “It was kind of our thing.”
A line formed from the Weinermobile — which was parked on South Main Street outside the Butler Art Center — to the Sons of Italy building.
Several fans sang the “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” jingle while waiting to have their picture taken with the ketchup- and mustard-colored Weinermobile.
Carey Bailey, of Rochester, Beaver County, pulled the bucket and shovel needed by Beauty and Enchilada, a miniature horse and miniature donkey, respectively, from Glade Run Adventures in Zelienople.
Bailey explained the two little equines are therapy animals at Glade Run, where caring for them teaches troubled children social skills and other lessons.
Two volunteers led the patient and petite animals up the sidewalk outside NexTier Bank as parents encouraged their young children to pet them.
“We’re getting the word out about Glade Run,” Bailey said.
Ramon Scott, an 84-year-old Vietnam veteran, came from Pittsburgh with his wife, Kathleen, to experience Carved In Ice.
“It’s pretty fabulous,” Ramon said as he gazed at the ice sculptures.
His favorite was “Triple Dog Dare,” which showed a boy with his tongue stuck to a flagpole.
Kathleen summed up the thoughts of everyone who came to Carved In Ice on Saturday.
“You can’t do this in July or August,” she said.