By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Sixteen blocks of ice equaling 2,500 pounds surrounded wood for a bonfire in downtown Goshen during the First Fridays Fire and Ice Festival.
Ice carvers Jim Houser of Huntington and Greg Beachey of New Paris worked together to light the wood inside the ice tower.
“These are two concepts that don’t mix — fire and ice,” Houser said. “I’ve worked on one before but not quite as big as this. This is the first time for Goshen.”
Brent Koehn watched in awe as water ran down the inside walls of the ice tower as flames shot upward from the fire within.
“That’s a neat effect,” Koehn said.
The temperature hovered around 25 degrees during the lighting of the bonfire.
“This is a nice idea and makes you feel warm,” Rhoda Schrag said watching the fire along with a large crowd of bystanders.
Ice carving, along with “fire dancing” pyrotechnic displays, were highlights of this month’s First Fridays event. The Fire and Ice Festival continues today downtown with an ice-carving competition from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the “chili fire” competition from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
‘We have fire’
First Fridays coordinator Katrina Maust heaved a sigh of relief Friday night after the fire finally got going with blow torches and pieces of cardboard added to the wood by Houser and Beachey.
“We have fire,” Maust said, smiling. “This is my first experience undertaking an event like this. Everybody contributes to make the large event come together. The business’ support it and we have so many. It’s awesome and I’m so excited about the tower of ice.”
Six-year-old Elliot Hollinger waited for the fire to be lit along with his 12-year-old sister, Sophie, and their dad Curtis Hollinger.
“It’s going to be cool when they light the fire,” Elliot said. “This is my favorite event. I just like the way it (ice sculptures) looks when they (ice carvers) are done.”
Sophie said she thinks the whole event “is cool and unique.” “I like the fire dancers show,” she added.
The family stopped by a warming station and roasted marshmallows while looking at the different sculptures around town.
Downtown Goshen Inc. Director Gina Leichty looked at the large crowd watching fire dancers spinning fire as well as the fire burn in the ice tower.
“The turnout is great and I’m delighted,” Leichty said. “The Fire and Ice Festival is one of the most well-attended events we have. We always have something new. People love the ice sculpting. It’s fun to watch the carvers work.”