MEDINA — About 20 years ago in February, Steven and Rona Battles of Madison were looking for something fun to do on their wedding anniversary. They found the answer 70 miles to the southwest.
“We read about the Medina Ice Festival in the newspaper and said, ‘Let’s go see what it’s all about,’” Steven Battles said Saturday. “We’ve been coming ever since.”
Rona Battles said the couple stays at a hotel and makes a weekend out of their visit.
“We’ve even brought our kids, grandkids and friends,” Rona Battles said.
Hundreds of people attended the 25th annual Medina Ice Festival, which included a speed-carving contest Friday evening, individual competition Saturday and team competition Sunday. All carvings will remain displayed in the square through Monday afternoon.
The free event also included the lighting of a fire-and-ice tower. Also, each piece was placed over LED spotlights that change colors for nighttime viewing.
Madahav Lakkapragada drove from Cincinnati for the ice festival after learning about the event on “Our Ohio,” a PBS TV show. It was his first time here.
“It was just a weekend road trip,” Lakkapragada said. “Ice carving is a great skill. I’m amazed by how they do it.”
Competitors also arrived from out of town. Joel Jones came from Newport News, Virginia, to compete in the ice festival. He works for a business called Chisel and Shaker, which carves bars out of ice for high-end cocktail lounges.
Jones said he started carving ice about a year and a half ago because his son, Matt, is an ice carver.
“It was something we could do together,” Jones said.
On Saturday, the outer edges of the square were lined with tents and booths of event sponsors, which this year included P.J. Marley’s Restaurant and Pub, Excalibur Auto Body, Main Street Medina and the city of Medina.
Each sponsor tent or booth included an ice sculpture created by Elegant Ice Creations in Broadview Heights that promoted that sponsor’s business. As more competitors finished their sculptures, their work was added to the display, which extended nine blocks in the Medina Historic District.
Among the visitors Saturday were Mike and Donita Singerman, of Shaker Heights, along with their grandsons, Tucker Singerman, 8, and Weston Singerman, 5, of Aurora. Mike and Donita said they attend the ice festival nearly every year.
“The kids like seeing the different creations and the carvers,” Donita Singerman said.
Temperatures were in the mid-20s.
“We’re all bundled up,” Donita Singerman said, smiling.