Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shipshewana Ice Festival

It's always a treat to visit Shipshewana! We went last month for the tree lighting ceremony. We have a few stores we like to visit like E&S (remember to bring cash!), Rise & Roll, and what was once known as the Cheese Factory. My husband and I remarked today that we'd like to return without the kids soon and just visit the shops downtown. While we enjoy being with the kids and taking them to Shipshewana, their attention span may be shorter than how we would like to explore the city.

I loved seeing the natural looking decorations on the side streets.


We met a friend near the ice carving competition. We've been at least one other year, on another sunny day with warm temperatures. This is a challenge for the carvers, but makes it much easier for the rest of us to be out. On carver said the warm temperatures draw the crowds! And it was hopping!


We were there around 10 am. Most of the carvers were starting to set up, sketch out their plans, etc. One was working on an ambitious design of a bear holding a ring of fire with a tiger jumping through! He was very personable and spent some time telling us what he was creating. He won! That's pretty cool. Many of the carvers had tents up that the gradually lowered to shield their creations from the sun. These guys on the far end had a different strategy: use a less complex design, cover the cardboard up to protect it from the sun, and then start carving later in the competition with just enough time to finish right in time for judging. His angel fish turned out great! Each contestant had his own set of specialty tools ready to work. It was interesting to see the 2-D drawings (usually sketched out on paper, then etched into the side of the block) gradually become a sculpture.

We took a break to walk around and visit the other sculptures created yesterday. This Nativity survived the night and reminded us of the reason for the season. We also saw a bear drinking Coca Cola (complete with bottle), the Capitol building (beautiful--probably my favorite), and an ice skate. There were numerous sculptures around town. Near the Nativity, we found several "chips" of ice that were leftovers of the negative space from the sculpting process. They were a nice size for the kids to use for play or perhaps even sculpting. A nearby shopkeeper said we could take them home, so we loaded them up to revisit later. They are now in our drive way--I wonder if they'll be frozen to the concrete in the morning! We also saw these little details of leaf prints on the sidewalk around the Davis Mercantile building. We spent a few minutes talking about the different types of leaves we saw--great time to practice leaf identification!


We checked on the progress at the competition--everyone was still hard at work! We could feel the spray of the ice chips in the air!  Our family checked out Head Over Heels nearby, as our friend recommended it. It is great for outdoor gear.

We met up for pretzels and hot cocoa later at JoJos. The kids explored the candy shop and went for carousel ride upstairs.

We returned just in time to see the final moments of the competition. 

Nature infused many of the sculptures, with birds, fish, tigers, and more. We talked about our favorite pieces and the process used to make the sculptures. We saw first hand artists at work and witnessed the water cycle process in action! 

This coyote (or wolf?) and the moon was neat. The bear with the ring of fire and tiger jumping through was the overall winner per The Elkhart Truth

This was one of my favorites, with an eagle catching a fish. We had a fun morning exploring a town nearby, watching ice sculpture artists, and witnessing the water cycle! If you missed it, there are other ice sculpture contests in the area, such as Goshen First Friday's Fire and Ice Festival or the Hunter Ice Festival in Niles in mid January.