TECUMSEH — Tecumseh is looking forward to hosting its biggest annual Ice Sculpture Festival this weekend.
In what is now the festival’s 11th year, downtown Tecumseh will be filled with activities for all ages, streets lined with hand-carved ice sculptures created by the Napoleon, Ohio-based Ice Creations, and specials being offered from participating downtown businesses.
“This year, just through our social media marketing and then our other marketing efforts … we’ve already reached about a quarter million people about this event that have shown some level of interest,” Jessica Sattler, Tecumseh economic development director, said. “Now, of course, we don’t expect a quarter million people to show up … but I think that says a lot about how much interest this event is gaining each year.”
This year’s event will have a record number of 41 ice sculptures, up from 37 last year, some of which will be carved on-site and placed on the sidewalks of Chicago Boulevard and Evans Street by the artists throughout Saturday, while festival attendees are invited to watch.
Last year, temperatures in the negatives and snow made it difficult to stay outside for very long and in previous years, temperatures were often too warm to keep the sculptures from melting. This year, Saturday promises to be mild but with rain and a wintry mix predicted, while Sunday is expected to drop below freezing with snow forecast.
“As far as the forecasted snow, I mean we had snow last year too and it was still a great event. So we aren’t concerned,” Sattler said. “This is a great event because it is a winter-themed event. We already had prepared for folks to have reasons to go inside of our businesses. So I think that it is still an event that folks can enjoy, whether it is cold and snowing or not. Because … we have many activities prepared for indoors as well.”
Two times throughout the afternoon Saturday, the sculptors will take a break from their work to have two dueling ice carving competitions — taking suggestions of what to sculpt from the audience and competing against each other to complete their sculptures.
The duels will be done on a portion of South Evans, in front of The Boulevard Market, which will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Free parking will be available at the four municipal parking lots.
This year will feature more interactive sculptures, such as ice tic tac toe, a selfie snowman, an ice hockey table, bean bag toss and corn hole.
According to Tecumseh marketing coordinator Linda Hewlett, some of the sculpture designs would include Baby Yoda, an owl, a sea turtle, Peppa Pig, Sven the Reindeer from the Disney animated film “Frozen,” Sonic the Hedgehog, Forky from the Disney/Pixar animated film “Toy Story 4” and many more.
“I’m excited about the record number of people who want to be involved. We’ve got more merchants than usual, we have more sculptures than usual, we have sponsors who were very generous this year, and we have a lot of social media traction,” Sattler said. “It says a lot about what a great event this is and also what a great community this is and how people are paying attention and want to be involved.”
The sculpting will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Also all day Saturday, 13 downtown businesses will open their doors to host the Winter Warm-Up Beverage Walk, serving various free hot beverages to attendees.
New to this year’s festival will be “The Owl Encounter” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at downtown’s southeast block, were visitors can meet a live great horned owl brought by the Michigan Avian Experience.
Olaf the Snowman, a character from “Frozen,” will make an appearance from 11 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of Carpet on Wheels at 119 W. Chicago Blvd.
“Elsa,” also from “Frozen,” will be available for selfies from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Martin’s Home Center.
The Ten Cents Flat Sax Quartet will perform from 2 to 3 p.m.
Visitors can make paper snowflakes, another addition to this year’s festival, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Tecumseh District Library, 215 N. Ottawa St.
The Chocolate Walk, where 17 downtown merchants will host chocolate-themed activities, with free samples and specials will be from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Neil Sauter — “The Michigan Stiltwalker,” who grew up in Blissfield — will be walking the town making balloon animals, juggling fire and performing magic tricks. Depending on the weather, the performance could be moved inside if needed.
The chamber office also will host the warming station on both days of the festival, where kids can participate in a Make-it, Take-it craft of clothespin snowmen and kids can paint a small tile to be used in Sculpture Park at Tecumseh High School.
Olaf will return for selfies from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in front of Hopscotch Kids, 154 E. Chicago Blvd.
On both days there will be a downtown scavenger hunt at participating merchants. Those who find all the hidden items can enter into a drawing to win one of two Tecumseh Area Chamber of Commerce checks, which can be used at any participating chamber member.
A corn hole competition will be held both days at the southwest block, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Other activities happening during both days of the festival include lost arts demonstrations at the Rooftop Cafe at the British Tea Garden, 112 E. Chicago Blvd. Here artisans will demonstrate an antique sock knitting machine, a spinning wheel, a triangle loom to make shawls, felted hats and purses; an inkle loom making bookmarks and keychains; and basket weaving. Visitors also will be able to purchase many of the items made by the demonstrators.
Event hoodies and T-shirts will be available for sale from Three Ravens Printing, 112 S. Pearl St., Suite A.
For more information, visit tinyurl.com/TecIceFest20 or call 517-424-6003.