St. Joseph Mich., is renowned as a four-season water wonderland with Lake Michigan and nearby rivers and inland lakes. But this time of year the city’s focus turns to frozen water during its 15th Annual Magical Ice Fest presented by Silver Beach Pizza, Feb. 1-3. Ice competitions, a breathtaking Fire & Ice display and 5K Chocolate Walk/Run are just some of the morning-‘til-night reasons to bring family and friends to this frosty, fun-filled weekend.
Amy Zapal, executive director at St. Joseph Today, summed it up, “If you need a cure for the winter blues, this is it!” She added that local hotels turn it into a great mid-winter getaway for families with children or a romantic pre-Valentine weekend for couples.
The winter festivities start Friday with professional carvers creating their artistic creations from blocks of ice on downtown streets, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Visitors can also participate in the SnowBiz Scavenger Hunt (runs through Sunday). An entry form listing all of the logo sculptures and contest details is available at the St. Joseph Today Welcome Center, 301 State St. Completing the hunt puts participants in the running for a $25 St. Joseph Today gift certificate good at more than 40 locations.
Immediately following the competition on Friday, the winter night will glimmer and glow at 7:30 p.m. with an amazing tower of both Fire & Ice, sponsored by Shadowland on Silver Beach, at State and Pleasant Streets. Then from 8 p.m. to midnight, adults can enjoy the 9th Annual Fire and Ice Party at Shadowland on Silver Beach, 333 Broad St., below the bluff. The evening, for ages 18 and up, includes a cash bar, tropical martini ice luge, pizza from Silver Beach Pizza, live entertainment by 27 Productions and more. A highlight of the evening will be the Aloha Chicago Fire Performers at 9:15 and 10:30 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge.
The fun continues Saturday with ice carving competitions from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 9 a.m., runners and walkers can melt a few pounds in the Sixth Annual Ice Fest 5K Chocolate Walk/Run presented by the Sunset Coast Striders. Money raised will benefit the Cycle-Re-Cycle in St. Joseph, Mich. For more information about this chip-timed event and a complete list of sponsors, visit https://thedriven.net/event.race_reg/eid/17603013568?.
The weekend’s ice carving competition truly heats up with the Seventh Annual Ice Wars from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at State and Pleasant Streets. Professional carvers will battle it out in 15-minute bouts of ice carving frenzy. The crowd will determine who wins the “best sculpture” title.
Keeping with the magical theme, magician John Dudley will perform throughout the day on Saturday. Check with the Welcome Center or the St. Joe Today website for a list of times and locations. Plus guests of all ages are encouraged to take a magical photo on a throne of ice at the corner of Pleasant and State sponsored by area hotels.
Silver Beach Center, 333 Broad St., will also add to the entertainment with its annual scoff-the-cold Waikiki Weekend. They will crank up the heat and turn the carousel house into a tropical paradise, Thursday through Sunday. Visitors are encouraged to wear their favorite island clothing and flip flops. Watch for more details at silverbeachcarousel.com.
Zapal said downtown restaurants and wineries will serve up a variety of foods and beverages to keep festivalgoers warm as they do their ice sculpture tours. Many shops will also offer specials to entice downtown visitors indoors. She added that the John and Dede Howard Ice Rink, 2414 Willa Dr., will offer open skating times and skate rentals throughout the weekend for more ice fun. “Of course, the natural, wintry beauty of Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River is magical, too.”
This year’s Interactive and Snow Biz sponsors include Berrien Community Foundation, Beaudoin Electrical Construction, Boulevard Inn & Bistro, Caffe Tosi, Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce, Great Lakes Eye Care, Honor Credit Union, Inn at Harbor Shores, Jimmy John’s, The Livery, Pier 1000, Power in Motion, Schultz Roofing, Silver Beach Carousel, South Bend International Airport The Whitcomb, Vail Rubber, 98.3 The Coast, 97.5 Y-Country, and WSJM. Additional sponsor support can be found at MagicalIceFest.com.
St. Joseph Today, a membership-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to developing and promoting events and businesses in St. Joseph, Mich. and its surrounding communities. For more information about upcoming events, visit stjoetoday.com or facebook.com/stjoetoday.