Downtown’s Monument Square is the place to be on Saturday, Jan. 20, when a new event called the Fire and Ice Festival will take place from noon to 5 p.m.
Presented by the Downtown Racine Corp., the free family festival will offer opportunities to celebrate the season — including ice skating and ice sculptures — as well as plenty of places to warm up and stay cozy.
Ice carvers from around the state will be on the north end of the square, transforming large blocks of ice into works of art — while the south half of the square will feature Downtown’s new ice skating rink, where all are invited to lace up a pair of skates and take a whirl around the rink for free. Free skate rentals will also be available during the festival (an ID must be provided while skates are in use).
In between, attendees can shake off the winter chill with a bonfire located on Monument Square. The festival will also offer a vendor area featuring food trucks and handmade crafts, and businesses around the square will be open and offering more food and drink options, according to Kelly Kruse, DRC executive director.
“The Downtown Racine Corporation, with the help of Racine Parks and Rec Department, are excited to bring this brand new event to Downtown,” Kruse said. “It’s a great way to celebrate our community and get some fresh air, especially during the cold winter months.”
Kruse said the new festival was inspired by similar events held in other communities and has been made possible with assistance from the City of Racine’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department, as well as Downtown merchants, the City of Racine and the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s been such a great collaborative effort,” she said.
Some Downtown merchants, including the Red Onion Café and the Sugar Shack, will be extending their hours during the festival, giving attendees more options to come inside and warm up, Kruse said. Others, such as McAuliffe’s On the Square, will be offering live musical entertainment during the event.
Sharing the warmth
Festival-goers are also encouraged to help keep others warm by bringing blankets to donate to the DRC’s blanket drive. New and gently used blankets will be collected during the festival and then delivered to area agencies that benefit the homeless, including HALO (Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization), according to Kruse.
Food and beverage options on Monument Square will include Milwaukee’s Meat on the Street food truck (http://meatonthestreetmke.com), as well as one from Racine’s Reefpoint Brew House, and a booth from Third Coast Wood Fire Pizza and Pub. Hot cocoa will be available from the Sugar Shack.
Kruse said the DRC is expecting at least seven ice carvers who will create as many as 12 sculptures from the 10-by-20-by-40-inch blocks of ice provided. Many of them are professional wood carvers who enjoy the challenge of working with a different material, she said.
“It is a really fun event for them, because ice carving is something they don’t do all the time.”
The new ice rink — which is scheduled to open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, and operate until March 11 (weather permitting) — will be 44 by 70 feet in size. It has been expanded a bit from the original vision of 35-by-70 because Kruse said organizers wanted to make it as large as possible.
The DRC, with support from its board, has also worked very hard to ensure that the skating rink would be available to the public free of charge, Kruse said. “We want this rink to be for everybody,” she said.
Regular skating rink operating hours (outside of the festival) will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, weather permitting, according to the DRC. Free skate rentals will be available from 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
The DRC currently has between 30 and 40 pairs of ice skates available for use and is still accepting donations of both skates and funds toward the purchase of skates. For more information, call 262-634-6002.
Deputies from the Racine County Sheriff’s Office will be on duty at the ice rink during all skate rental times, providing additional security, Kruse said.