Plymouth Ice Festival this weekend, Feb. 12-14
FEB. 11, 2021 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
This will be the 39th year for the Plymouth Ice Festival which will return to the basic concept for the festival which originated four decades ago. It was started in 1982 by a small group of local businessmen and community leaders who hoped to attract crowds to downtown Plymouth to help bolster business during the usually lackluster sales time. The event grew to include massive ice sculptures in Kellogg Park, live entertainment, collegiate and professional ice carving contests and the famous dueling chain saw ice carving competition. The festival earned an international reputation among professional carvers who competed at the event, which drew nearly 500,000 people to the city during the three-day weekend.
The festival has faced some challenges during the past four decades including inclement weather and financial difficulties during the economic downturn. As the event was continuing to grow and include attractions like free skiing lessons, a petting zoo, pony rides, fire and ice obelisks and a party tent, unprecedented warm temperatures and rain last year during the weekend left many of the ice sculptures nearly unrecognizable.
This year, health precautions due to the pandemic had all but cancelled the event until, once again, a few community members stepped in to persuade James Gietzen, president of JAG Entertainment, which produces the event, to give it a try.
Gietzen, said the event would be markedly different this year, but still an attraction sure to draw crowds into the city. Gietzen said the festival would include smaller ice sculptures set in front of local businesses and through-out downtown while the larger ice carvings usually installed in Kellogg Park would be absent this year. The changes were necessary due to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, according to Getzen and the DDA.
Plans include installation of about 80 smaller-scale sculptures which should help attract crowds to the community and, hopefully, local businesses.
Michigan First Credit Union is sponsoring 24 smaller ice carvings this year. Many of the usual events, like the dueling chain saws and the college competitions are cancelled this year, although Gietzen said the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) officials are organizing events for the weekend including having visitors fill a bingo-like card with stickers from various businesses as they walk through downtown. The object will be to fill the card with stickers from businesses on at least three streets to get a bingo and win a gift card.
DDA Director, Tony Bruscado, said the game is designed to get people into downtown stores to see what local merchants have to offer and hopefully, make a purchase while filling the card to win a $25 gift card. The gift cards are being donated by local businesses participating in the game.