Monday, January 23, 2017

Community Ice Carving Kicks Off Winterfest on February 4!

Camden’s Winterfest wonderland week kicks off on Saturday February 4, with town-wide festivities including Community Ice Carving in the Amphitheatre, professional snow carving on the Village Green, freestyle snowboarding in Harbor Park, and a Polar Plunge into Camden Harbor! Winterfest began fifteen years ago in the Camden Amphitheatre with a festival of ice carving, and the Camden Public Library and its volunteers carry on the tradition today. This year there will be twelve teams of community ice carvers, with additional sculptures by master carver Tim Pierce. Accompanied by music outdoors, and live music indoors, the carvers will complete dazzling crystalline sculptures on Saturday afternoon. There will be hot food available at the Amphitheatre, donated and prepared by volunteers, and kids’ crafts indoors. The radiant sculptures will last as long as winter weather continues, softening and glistening and changing from day to day.

Ice sculpting is a wonderful outdoor activity in the winter; using special tools provided by the Library, the chips literally fly as the blocks are transformed into sculpture. Teams return year after year to participate; returning teams include the Riley School, Artice, Team Thompson, Jim Reitz & Friends, MidCoast Interact Club, Station Maine, and the Children’s House Montessori School. The ice comes in crystal-clear blocks, 10” x 20” x 40”, weighing 300 pounds. The ice carving is sponsored in part by the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Festivities in the Amphitheatre on February 4 include not only ice carving, hot food, and music from noon to 3:00 outdoors, and live music from Hank Lund & All That Jazz, face painting, winter storytime, and kids crafts indoors, all hosted by the Camden Public Library. The festivities will also include the Camjam in Harbor Park and a Polar Plunge. The Snow Bowl will offer freestyle boarding on terrain park elements and snow imported from the ski area. On the Village Green, juried snow sculptures will be frantically and artistically formed in preparation for judging on Sunday. The event is the state’s only sanctioned snow carving competition. The Polar Plunge is at 2:30 pm at the harbor’s edge in Harbor Park, hosted by Coastal Mountains Land Trust.

The events continue through the week. Tuesday, February 7, the Camden Public Library will host a special free screening of “Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe” in the Reading Room of the library at 6:00pm. Wednesday, February 8, the terrifically entertaining Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers will perform “Legend of the Banana Kid” at the Camden Opera House at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $5/$15 family price, and are available at the Camden Public Library.

Festivities take on a Mardi Gras flair on Thursday with a live concert at the Camden Opera House featuring both the Dolphin Strikers and headliner C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. Friday features the kickoff of the US National Toboggan Championships at the Snow Bowl, with the “Snow Plow Parade” in town in the evening, followed by fireworks over the harbor.

On Saturday, February 11, the Library will host “Winter Fairy Fun!” at 10:00 pm with Miss Katie's All Ages Story Hour. Kids can join in fairy attire for winter and Valentine themed stories and crafts.

The Toboggan Nationals continue on Saturday, and there will be a ski movie at the Opera House, a Mardi Gras block party and dance downtown, along with the Frost Heave Challenge finale. On Sunday, Winterfest wraps up with the finals of the US National Toboggan Championships at the Snow Bowl.

Camden Winterfest 2017 is Maine’s Mardi Gras. It’s a week-long celebration of winter with outdoor and indoor activities, beginning with ice carving and snow sculpting and culminating with the Toboggan Nationals and a celebratory dance, all with a Maine Mardi Gras festive theme. From the opening celebration in the Amphitheatre to the closing victory celebration at the Toboggan Nationals, Camden Winterfest is a lively winter phenomenon for families, visitors, and teammates. Winterfest builds on the traditions of the ice-carving Winterfest celebration begun fifteen years ago and the Toboggan Nationals that began over twenty-five years ago on the restored toboggan chute at the Snow Bowl. It promises to be a growing, dynamic, community-based festival full of mid-winter activities for all.

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