Ramped-up Ice Festival to return to city

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 5, 2018

 Anna Stachura, of Auburn Hills, checks out an ice sculpture during the 2017 Utica Ice Festival. The event will take place Feb. 9-11 this year.

Anna Stachura, of Auburn Hills, checks out an ice sculpture during the 2017 Utica Ice Festival. The event will take place Feb. 9-11 this year.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

UTICA — The city of Utica’s premier winter event will return to the downtown district with a slew of new activities, thanks to a partnership with the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

The Utica Ice Festival will take place Friday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, Feb. 11, in the area of Auburn Road and Cass Avenue and, on Saturday, inside Jimmy John’s Field, 7171 Auburn Road.

Publicity chair Michael Dach said most of Saturday’s events will take place inside the stadium and will include a screening of the movie “Frozen” on the big screen, live entertainment broadcast on the stadium’s sound system and kids activities, including face painting and the opportunity to visit with Elsa and the festival’s snow queen.

“We have inflatables, including a giant slide, coming in and a merry-go-round that we’ve never had before (inside the stadium),” Dach said. “(The ballpark) will also be hosting their own wine tasting and craft beer on Saturday afternoon.”

Additionally, he said, this will be the first time the city will bring in food trucks, slated for noon-4 p.m. Saturday, after having “big success” in the summer with hosting regular food truck rallies.

“Weather permitting, we’ll put the ice rink up again, and the fact that we added a daddy-daughter skate (at 4 p.m. Saturday) is new this year as well,” he said. “Of course, the fireworks spectacular will wrap up (Saturday night), and the Downtown Development Authority merchants once again purchased ice sculptures to decorate the downtown area, so the public can see the different carvings.”

Utica Mayor Thom Dionne said the city is looking to invite the public for a Friday night pub crawl, with live music downtown from 5 to 8 p.m., and that Saturday will be more of a family day, with an amateur ice carving contest at Hogs Hollow Smokehouse from 1 to 4 p.m. and kids activities inside the ballpark.

“We are crowning an ice king and queen again, and they will be receiving scholarships from the DDA,” Dionne said. “This year, by comparison, will be much more significant than in years past.”

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the Utica Public Library will host its annual Big Book Sale, featuring a variety of adult and children’s books, DVDs and more. All proceeds will support the library, located at 7530 Auburn Road.

Utica City Hall will serve as a warming center throughout the length of the festival. City Hall is located at 7550 Auburn Road.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.utica-events.com. For more information about the event, call the city of Utica at (586) 739-1600.