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Bloomington community welcomes inaugural Freezefest


A sculpture from Freezefest is seen Jan. 9 in People’s Park outside the Sample Gates. Freezefest will take place Jan. 7-11. Izzy Myszak

Large ice sculptures taking the shape of a train, Lil BUB and more dotted downtown Bloomington on Thursday during the inaugural Freezefest. 

The sculptures are some of several attractions to visit during Freezefest, which began Tuesday and goes through Saturday. According to its website, Freezefest was created to allow Bloomington families and community members to beat the winter blues with fun activities. 

The sculptures were crafted by internationally known ice sculptors from Ice of America, according to the event’s website.

Nia Jones, the digital marketing manager of Freezefest, said Thursday people seem to have enjoyed the events so far. She has seen many people share photos and post on social media about the events. She said she thinks Friday and Saturday will be busier days, as people will be out visiting the sculptures. 

“We got the idea from a similar event that happens in Richmond, Indiana,” Jones said. 

The first two days of Freezefest were set aside to allow people to watch the sculptors work. Sculpting carried on to Thursday, joined by food trucks, games and warming stations. 

Patrons were also invited to check out Club Igloo, a place for children to hang out, eat snacks, drink hot chocolate and get temporary tattoos. Club Igloo was decorated by the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington and will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at 642 N. Madison St. 

Members of Ice of America will be participating in B-Town Ice Battle from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at Upland Brewing Co. It will include an ice carving competition, food trucks and an ice bar where festival-goers can drink Upland beer. 

Jones said it hasn’t been difficult keeping events on schedule, despite the warm temperatures. She said Ice of America does events like these often, so they helped mitigate any foreseeable problems. 

Director Mike McAfee said there are some sculptures the group of ice artists expects to melt from rain, but they have sculptures on standby ready to replace them.

Freezefest will wrap up Saturday with a chili cook-off from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mill Event Hall. There will also be live ice-carving demos from 12 to 4 p.m. Winter games such as curling, skating and snowball fights will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at Switchyard Park Pavilion as part of the festival's Winter Palooza. The event is $5 per person or $20 for a family. 

Patrons can then end the night with last looks at the ice sculptures located at the Monroe County Courthouse Square, the B-Line Trail crossing at Seventh Street, People’s Park and the Upland Brewing Co. patio. The sculptures will stay put until they melt.

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