For the past three years, Freezefest — Bloomington’s only winter festival — has put on different winter activities, such as ice skating, ice sculpting and cookie decorating. During three consecutive days and for the fourth year in a row, the festival took place this past week from Jan. 18 to Jan. 20 at The Mill and Upland Brewing Company.
In front of The Mill, various ice sculptures lined the sidewalk. Some shapes included a cactus, a tree frog, the Kool-Aid Man and two Indiana University basketball players. Attendees were also drawn to the interactive ice sculptures, which included games such as mini golf, cornhole, air hockey and ping pong.
One of the attendees, Megan Conner, said this was her first time attending the event. She said it was exciting to see all the different types of ice sculptures and to be able to watch some of them be carved.
“It’s really great that Bloomington does a lot of these awesome social outreach events,” she said. “They’re just bringing the community together, and I really love that about Bloomington.”
Amongst the finished sculptures outside, were members from Ice of America — a group of ice artists that travel to different cities in America to sculpt at events, where they carve pieces for others to watch and ask questions. One of the sculptors, Harvey Russell, has been sculpting full time since 2004 and began sculpting for Freezefest since the festival was founded.
“I just find something I like to draw and a composition that speaks to me,” he said. “Then I draw it on the ice and start cutting it out.”
Each year, the festival brings in about 170 blocks of ice for the event and stacks them on top of each other to be cut. Usually, depending on the size of the ice block, sculpting can take up to three to five hours to finish.
Outside, kids slide down a slide made of ice as parents watched. Nearby, there was a small ice skating rink, where attendees had the opportunity to skate for just $5. Attendees also enjoyed food trucks such as Pili’s Party Taco and Little Bowl Thai.
Inside The Mill, there were different small businesses, such as Bloomington Martial Arts. The school offers classes in a variety of martial arts and provided hot chocolate for attendees. A parent of a student, and former student herself from the school, Francis Thayer, said this was their first year advertising their business at Freezefest.
The festival had been very successful for her because they had gained lots of attention and found some more possible clients. They had a prize wheel where people could win a free T-shirt, karate bag, or up to a month of free classes.
“People are definitely looking for great deals, but they also look for honesty,” she said. “I feel if small business owners can get out there and present their business like that, the public feels a little bit more at ease.”
Cookie decorating and a coloring contest for kids were also a couple of the activities offered alongside the local venues. Upstairs in The Mill, The Chocolate Moose was handing out different flavors of ice cream, such as Brown County coffee, vanilla, grasshopper, chocolate and vegan chocolate.
Freezefest was able to bring the Bloomington community together with lots of winter activities for people of all ages. With the number of people attending and enjoying all the activities, it was an opportunity to enjoy the cold with family and friends.