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 Jeff Wolf, an ice carver for Finesse Ice in Shelby Township, shows off his craft during an ice carving demonstration after the Jan. 6 Fire and Ice Festival press conference at Rochester Mills Beer Co.

Jeff Wolf, an ice carver for Finesse Ice in Shelby Township, shows off his craft during an ice carving demonstration after the Jan. 6 Fire and Ice Festival press conference at Rochester Mills Beer Co.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Fire and Ice Festival to help kick off Oakland County’s bicentennial

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 7, 2020

 Jeff Wolf works on Mickey Mouse during the ice carving demonstration.

Jeff Wolf works on Mickey Mouse during the ice carving demonstration.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROCHESTER — Downtown Rochester will help Oakland County kick off a year full of fun in celebration of the county’s bicentennial during the 13th annual Fire and Ice Festival next weekend.

“This year I am especially excited, because in addition to this being the 13th annual Fire and Ice Festival, this is the official kickoff of Oakland County’s 200th birthday,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said during a Jan. 6 press conference. “We are celebrating our bicentennial this year with a whole host of events and special things going on all year long, but we are going to kick it off right here at Fire and Ice.”

Although there wasn’t much snow on the ground — or in the forecast — at press time, Coulter said that whatever the weather, there will be plenty to do at the festival.

“Right now there isn’t a lot of snow in the forecast, but this is Michigan, and it can change on a dime, so we’ll be prepared either way,” he said.

The 13th annual festival — which will run 5-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at East Second and Mill streets in downtown Rochester — will feature dog sledding demonstrations and rides, tube sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, and — if temperatures remain above freezing — cornhole, face painting, kids games and other warmer-weather activities. All winter activities are free of charge.

“This is our winter event to celebrate the great quality of life in Oakland County,” Coulter said. “It’s absolutely free, so anybody from Oakland County or southeast Michigan or anywhere else who wants to come, you can come here absolutely free and enjoy all of the incredible things that there are to do.”

There will be a collegiate ice carving competition on Main Street, live ice carving demonstrations, marshmallow roasting, pet adoptions, a K-9 demonstration, carriage rides, the Brooksie Way Chill at the Mills 5K Race, music, shopping and more.

A fireworks display will delight crowds near the corner of East Third and Water streets at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and those who haven’t yet seen the Big, Bright Light Show will get a final chance to view the lights 5 p.m.-midnight all three nights.

“The fireworks show, in particular, will be our signature event to help kick off 200 years of Oakland County,” Coulter said. “Technically, the birthday is March 28 … but in order to help us recognize that and to give us a little bit more detail about the bicentennial — which has been in the works for a couple of years — we’re going to have an entire year of special events and celebrations.”

Throughout the Fire and Ice Festival weekend, attendees can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a beverage at a food truck rally or under the Tastefest Tent.

The Rochester Fire Department will hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to benefit the Rochester Area Youth Assistance group 5-8 p.m. Jan. 17 and 4-8 p.m. Jan. 18 at the main fire station, 277 E. Second St., as well as a pancake breakfast fundraiser to benefit RAYA 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 19.

Rochester Mayor Pro Tem Dean Bevacqua said the Fire and Ice Festival is wonderful.

“It’s an event that brings 40,000 people into our downtown to enjoy everything that we have to offer,” he said.

Whatever the weather, Oakland County Commissioner Gary McGillivray encouraged everyone to come to the festival.

“One year, you stand at the fire pits all night trying to keep warm. This year, we’re going to have mud wrestling, I think,” he said with a chuckle. “We’ll see what happens. Make sure you come out, and hopefully we can get more of these festivals countywide all the way around the county.”

The Fire and Ice Festival is presented by the Fire and Ice Festival Committee, Oakland County, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department, the city of Rochester and the Rochester Downtown Development Authority. It is sponsored by Vibe Credit Union this year.

A free shuttle to the festival will be available at Buffalo Wild Wings, 1234 Walton Blvd. in Rochester Hills. For more information about the festival, visit Facebook.com/FireAndIceRochester or OakGov.com/FireAndIce.