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Posted on Fri. Jan. 24, 2014 - 12:17 am EDT

Winterval draws community for chilly activities

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Ice carving

10 a.m. – Grand Wayne Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd. and University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry St.

11 a.m. – Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St.

Noon – Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza

2 p.m. – Community Center, 233 W. Main St. and Auer Center for Arts & Culture, 300 E. Main St.

Pre-sculpted carvings – Freimann Square, Clinton and Main streets and Office One Solutions, 1021 S. Calhoun St.

With the forecast predicting a chilly, partly cloudy day on Saturday, ice carver Jim Houser says it is a perfect day for ice sculptures and people looking for some winter fun.

“It’s fun watching people use chainsaws to create works of art in a short amount of time,” he says. “Ice carvings usually take an hour while wood carvings can take three to four hours. They can see something take shape very quickly.”

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation plans to draw people outdoors with their Winterval event downtown, which includes live ice carving demonstrations.

Community Center Manager Chuck Reddinger says the event has expanded from the Community Center’s Winter Carnival in 2011 to an area event that includes several downtown businesses and organizations.

In conjunction with Downtown Improvement District’s Last Saturday event, Winterval offers a full day of horse-drawn carriage rides, a free rugby game, indoor activities and performances.

Participants can also sign up for the Penguin Hunt contest, and find the designated penguin for each Winterval location.

“We just wanted to do a winter event. No one was doing one at the time so we thought it would be a way to get people out of the house,” Reddinger says. “I think right now we have a really good core of businesses in the downtown area that work well together for downtown events. It’s really easy to develop an event like this when every one is working together.”

Four ice carvers will be responsible for creating 11 sculptures out of 18 blocks of ice, and some of the sculptures will take multiple blocks of ice that are fused together with water. Houser, a chef and ice carver for 17 years, says he is responsible for organizing the design for each sculpture.

“The entertainment part is watching people carving and removing chunks of ice and doing the finish up work with chainsaws, chisels and dremels,” Houser says. “Each tool makes a different mark. You can create the illusion that one piece of ice differs from the other.”

Reddinger says the ice carvings have turned out to be a highlight of the day’s events.

“Many people haven’t seen it before and they’re really impressed how vivid the ice sculptures are,” he says. “We have them scheduled so that somewhere downtown people can watch these ice carvings throughout the day.”

Along with ice carvings, three new venues are offering more activities. The Auer Center’s new ArtsLab will host the Fort Wayne Youtheatre’s production of “The People Could Fly;” Grand Wayne Center will present the Indiana All-State Percussion Ensemble, DeKalb High School Show Choir and the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers; and the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center will be a new site for one of the ice carving demonstrations.

Reddinger says that for a fairly new event, Winterval has quickly formed a link between downtown entities and the community they serve.

“I just want people to come out and have fun. That’s what it is all about,” he says. “With such a long winter, we want people to enjoy Fort Wayne.”

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Sponsored by Masters Heating & Cooling, Inc.
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