The sidewalks may not be made of yellow bricks, but there’ll be no place like Somerset during the 22nd Annual Fire & Ice Festival January 13-15.
Hosted annually by Somerset Inc., the Fire & Ice Festival has drawn thousands of visitors to the streets of Uptown Somerset each Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend since the event’s inception in 1995. Over the years, the popular three-day festival has grown to be more than just a showcase for intricate ice sculptures, and with a 2017 theme of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the Fire & Ice Festival is sure to feature something for everyone, from the young in age to the young at heart.
Beginning Friday, Mastro Gourmet Quality Ice’s maestros will display their clever Oz-themed creations throughout the streets of Somerset and will be on hand throughout the weekend to demonstrate how they create such elaborate works of art using heavy-duty tools like chainsaws, grinders and chisels. Over the years, their sculptures have ranged from palm trees and princesses to dump trucks, the Rolling Stones’ iconic logo, a replica of the USS Somerset and everything in between.
Though the ice sculptures are the centerpiece of the three-day event, they’re far from the only draw. Little Big Shots will kick off the weekend by putting the “fire” in the Fire & Ice Festival with a fireworks display on the Diamond, the center of Somerset’s Uptown district, at 6 p.m. Friday.
Live music and entertainment are scheduled throughout the weekend. At 7 p.m. Friday, local musicians J.D. and Cindy Ross will perform at Spice Up Your Life Herbery & Coffee House while the Adam Ernst Band takes the stage at the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The annual Teen Band Blast Friday evening will entertain teenagers, too, with performances by The Crew of the Half Moon, Hymnless, NLSand Small Gesture. The ever-popular Michael O’Brian Band once again headlines the festival’s entertainment lineup with a performance Saturday evening at the American Legion.
On Saturday, kids will enjoy the Fire & Ice Children’s Area, located at First Christian Church, with its youth activities, a meet and greet with Glinda the Good Witch, and a visit by famed illusionist Lee Terbosic. An eclectic array of vendors and crafters will fill the basement of Newberry Place at the festival’s Marketplace throughout the weekend, and further down Main Street, the Laurel Highlands Model Railroad Club will have its winter display for all to see.
If you’re hungry, the Fire & Ice Festival is the place to be. In addition to Somerset’s numerous eateries, bakeries and coffee shops, the festival offers its own opportunities for tasty treats and venues with good food. The Kiwanis Club of Somerset will serve up its popular all-you-can eat Pancake Breakfast Saturday morning and later that day, area service clubs, organizations and restaurants will vie for top honors in the “Wizards” Hot Stuff Chili and Soup Cook-off. Visitors can warm up by making S’mores around the fire pits on the Diamond and, as an added bonus, this year’s Fire & Ice Festival will feature a beer, wine and spirits tent showcasing local purveyors in Trinity Park. Food vendors will also be set up on the streets.
In addition to the Chili and Soup Cook-off, the festival offers other avenues for those with a competitive spirit, including a 5K Walk/Run. Area businesses will compete in the Window & Interior Decorating Contest while visitors can participate in a Scavenger Hunt. At 2 p.m. Saturday, students will show off their skills in a Model Brick Building Competition. Afterwards, see their conceptions on display.
For a detailed schedule of events, visit the Fire & Ice Facebook page. Also be sure to pick up an official 2017 Fire & Ice Festival Guidebook, available at area businesses, for a map of sculptures, discount coupons and additional information on the event.