An ice carver uses a sander on an ice sculpture during the 2014 Ice Breaker festival in South Haven. This year's festival is scheduled Friday-Sunday, Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in downtown South Haven.
Festival breaks up winter's icy grip
Ice Breaker features ice sculpture contest, chili cook-off and new 5K run
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
If you've got the winter blahs, cheer up, because one of South Haven's most popular festivals gets underway this weekend.
The three-day Ice Breaker festival begins Friday, in downtown South Haven, and features more than a dozen events, including the popular ice sculpture contest and the professional chili cook-off.
“Ice Breaker is such an important winter event for our community,” said Susan Diepen, assistant director of the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the festival each year. “The Chamber puts the effort into this event because it brings critical revenue to local businesses at a time that would otherwise be very slow. We hear positive stories each yer about how the festival weekend generates needed revenue for overhead expenses or winter taxes, and this encourages us to continue to plan and implement this event.”
Over the years, Ice Breaker has grown in terms of events and business participation.
“We have a record number of chili cook-off participants with 24 this year,” Diepen said. The festival has also attracted 50 businesses and organizations willing to sponsor ice blocks for the sculpture contest.
“We have two sizes of ice blocks that are delivered for carving — 300 pounds and 600 pounds,” Diepen said. “Our Title Sponsor, Lawn Boys, will have a large ice sculpture near the ice rink. Last year, their sculpture won first place in the professional division, and I'm sure they're trying for a repeat award this year.”
Several dozen local and out-of-state carvers will converge on South Haven's downtown Saturday, Jan. 31, to create sculptures on Phoenix, Center, Williams, Broadway, Kalamazoo, Eagle and Huron streets.
“Some of the carvers are locals – business owners, students, local chefs and sculpture artists,” Diepen said. “We also have several professional carvers who travel from Indiana to carve at this event.”
While people enjoy watching the ice carvers at work, they can taste samples of chili from 24 restaurants, including Clementine's Saloon, Taste, The Idler Riverboat, Thirsty Perch and Phoenix Street Cafe, downtown. Samples will also be available at other sites in South Haven, including the American Legion on Michigan Avenue, The Moose Lodge on Wells Street, The Depot on Dyckman Avenue and Captain Lou's, also on Dyckman Avenue.
To make sure festival-goers can easily access chili samples and other activities offered throughout the city, a free shuttle bus will be available from noon-10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31. The shuttle will make continuous one-hour loops around South Haven during that time.
“We tried the shuttle in 2012, but it was the warmest Ice Breaker in recent memory, so it was under-utilized,” Diepen said. “This year's shuttle route reaches farther and allows riders to easily reach lodging and Captain Lou's on the north side, as well as the Moose Lodge and the American Legion without having to walk or drive.”
The shuttle also was reintroduced this year due to the reconstruction of Dyckman Avenue Drawbridge, which connects the city's south side and north side.
“We wanted to be able to provide easy access to downtown events to those who are staying on the north side, as well as help longtime Ice Breaker participant Captain Lou's participate again this year, despite the bridge closure and the construction on Dyckman Avenue,” Diepen said.
Ice Breaker wouldn't be possible without the financial support of businesses throughout the South Haven area, according to chamber Executive Director Kathy Wagaman. More than 100 businesses are helping to make the festival a reality this year.
“The business owners in our community have been very kind and supportive of this event,” she said. “We are very grateful for each sponsor, and because of them we can continue to put this event on.”
Break the Ice 5K run/walk debuts at this year's festival
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Area running enthusiasts can test their mettle for winter weather when they take part in the first-ever Break the Ice 5K run/walk.
Sponsored as a fundraiser for South Haven High School and Baseline Middle School track and cross-country teams, the event will take place Saturday, Jan. 31 during South Haven's annual Ice Breaker festival.
“We're going to have a 5K run/walk and a kid's dash,” said middle school track and cross-country coach Lindsay Haqq, who is co-directing the event along with high school track and cross-country coach Charlie Richards. “Any money we make from the race will go for uniforms, equipment or to help pay for summer camp for our teams.” Currently, 170 students take part in South Haven Public Schools track and cross-country programs.
The race will follow a course similar to the popular National Blueberry Festival race, starting at Kalamazoo and Eagle streets, and ending at Riverfront Park on Water Street. Runners will travel along Kalamazoo Street, Aylworth Avenue, Monroe Boulevard, South Beach and then end the race on Water Street near Maple Street. The Kid's Frosty Dash will take place on Water Street, as well.
The race begins at 10 a.m., while the kid's dash is scheduled at 11 a.m. The registration fee includes a free t-shirt.
Interested runners can register for the race online at www.runsignup.com Late registration and packet pick-up locations will be at South Haven High School, Jan. 30, between 5-7 p.m.; and the day of the race in the lower level of Black River Tavern, from 8 a.m.-9:45 a.m.
For more information, email Lindsay Haqq at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Charlie Richards at email@example.com
Ice Breaker Schedule of Events
For more information about Ice Breaker, visit www.southhavenmi.com