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Utica Ice Festival Takes Shape

Utica Mayor promises 2012 Ice Festival in February will be the biggest and best.

As Utica continues to mold the details of the eighth Ice Festival, one thing for certain is there will be beautiful ice sculptures on display in the historic center of Utica and along the Van Dyke corridor Feb. 10-12.

“The Utica Ice Festival will be bigger and better than ever,” said Mayor Jacqueline Noonan.

Noonan, along with newly elected Councilwoman Faith Terenzi, has joined the Downtown Development Authority’s committee, chaired by John Sattman, owner of and Tom Steeh, owner of the building that houses GarageBand Music on Cass Avenue, to organize the event.

“The idea is to notice downtown and notice our establishments and enjoy a fun afternoon with your family,” Noonan said.

By word of mouth, between 35 and 50 businesses and organizations have already committed to sponsoring an artistic ice sculpture during the festival.

Jeff Wolf, a Shelby Township artist and owner of, and his team will carve all the Utica Ice Festival Sculptures before the show. One final masterpiece will be created live at the ice festival.

The four elementary schools in Utica—, , and —will participate in a design contest themed “Utica Loves Winter.”  All three designs submitted will be carved, but the grand prize winning design will be carved live during the festival.

Other attractions include a horse drawn carriage ride through town to see the sculptures, live entertainment, a warming station inside of city hall with free hot cocoa and, weather permitting, an ice rink at Grant Park.

Noonan said the committee, which has had a late start on the festival planning, has tons of ideas to keep the little ones entertained such as a snowman building contest, and celebrity signings. However, Noonan said the final details will come later this week after the DDA’s meeting.

The ice festival was started in 2002 and ran until 2008, with one year off in 2006 for Super Bowl XL because ice carvers were busy in Detroit.

The event was canceled in 2009 and 2011 because of a lack of funding.

“It was canceled in 2009 because of an enormous global financial meltdown. In 2011, we faced the same kind of situation: businesses were struggling so desperately—after two weeks of trying to get sponsors—it was canceled because the economy was too bad,” said Noonan.

However, Noonan said the tides have changed and 2012 will be a great year for the Utica Ice Festival.

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