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Fire and Ice Festival brings ice creatures, chili to downtown Goshen

Saturday was day two of Goshen's Fire and Ice Festival, featuring chili and ice carving competitions.

Posted on Jan. 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 5, 2013 at 5:35 p.m.

GOSHEN — They started out as 600-pound blocks of ice and within a couple hours, had transformed into a fairy, a dragon, a gazelle and other sculptures.

The second day of Goshen’s Fire and Ice Festival brought out several members of the Michiana Ice Carvers Association to compete in the annual ice carving competition Saturday.

The start time of the competition was delayed an hour, giving carvers two hours, instead of three, to create their ice masterpieces.

Robert Elkins, a carver from Manistee, Mich., said that it would be challenging to finish within that time, but that he was “having a good time, just trying to make a pretty ice sculpture.”

Like many of the carving competitors, a chunk of Elkins’s time involved cutting apart and reattaching pieces of ice to create a taller and more elaborate sculpture out of the initial ice block. That meant using an iron and hot aluminum to melt the two surfaces before holding them together to freeze back together.

Twenty-four degrees is the ideal temperature to work in, Elkins said, but with a downtown Goshen temperature nearing 30 degrees midday, according to Accuweather, ice carvers had another challenge to face.

In the end, Elkins ran out of time before attaching three of the legs on his ice gazelle, but thought what he did get done looked good.

Richard Biggs of South Bend crafted a dragon out of his block of ice. It was a design he had done before at another competition. At that contest, though, the weather had been too warm and his sculpture crumpled at his feet in the last moments of the contest.

Saturday, it held together through the contest and after.

With only two hours to work, “the detail work had a backseat today,” he said, but added that he thought his sculpture had turned out well overall.

Families circled around the carvers in downtown Goshen, marveling as carvers used chainsaws, grinders and numerous other tools to create the sculptures. Some in the crowds, sampled entries in the annual Chili Fire Competition as they watched.

Six downtown restaurants and Elks Lodge 768 competed in the chili cook-off. Free tickets went to 250 people, allowing them a sample at each location, who then voted for their favorite.

In the end, Maple City Market’s chili won both the people’s choice and judge’s choice.

In the ice carving contest, Mike Evans of Edwardsburg, Mich., won first place with his sculpture outside Better World Books of a circus elephant balancing blocks. Greg Beachey of New Paris earned second place with his sculpture of a fairy at the southeast corner of Main and Washington streets. Josh Niven of Buchanan, Mich., won third in the contest with his sculpture of a perching eagle in the east alleyway between Lincoln Avenue and Main Street.




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