Ligonier Ice Fest continues to warm hearts of attendees
When Ernie DiMartino was a teenager, he was refused membership in the school art club because the teacher thought he didn't have enough talent to be an artist. Now the Jeannette man makes his living as an award-winning ice sculptor, carving blocks of ice into everything from swans and eagles to 36-foot ice slides and horses pulling carriages.
DiMartino, the president of DiMartino Ice Co. in Jeannette, will demonstrate his skills this weekend during the Ligonier Ice Fest, which he founded 22 years ago to bring the beauty and spectacle of ice carving to Western Pennsylvania. “Since then, it's grown, Ligonier has grown, and other communities have followed suit,” he says.
The 50 ice sculptures on display in and around the Diamond will be made by DiMartino and four other carvers from DiMartino Ice. About half the sculptures will be made at the ice house before the festival, while the rest are carved on site. Each sculpture is sponsored by a business, individual or nonprofit. Many of the designs on display this weekend were chosen to pay tribute to DiMartino's father, who founded the business in 1968.
“We're trying to honor his memory,” DiMartino says. “Ligonier was his absolute favorite place to be. He was a serious man, but when he was in Ligonier, he was all smiles.”
Each sculpture takes about an hour per block to carve. The bulk of the work is done with a chainsaw, and details are added with router bits, chisels and other small tools.
During the festival, horse-and-buggy rides will be offered for a small fee, weather permitting. Local stores will have indoor sidewalk sales, and restaurants will be open. On Saturday at 11 a.m. a spaghetti dinner will be offered in the Town Hall community room, and kettle corn will be available throughout the weekend.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, kids 10 and under can participate in a free story and craft hour at the library. Later that afternoon, adults 21 or older can escape the cold for a few hours during the Winter Chill Chaser from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Ligonier Theater. The event features a wine tasting with homemade soups, bread and live music. “They had a blast last year,” says Cathy Rhodes, the theater's executive director. “They didn't want to leave!”
The wine is made by Royal Welsh Winery. This year's soup choices will be Hungarian goulash, potato soup and chicken noodle vegetable soup. The Bricks, an acoustic '70s-rock band, will perform. Admission for the Chill Chaser is $20. Reservations are suggested; call the theater at 724-238-6514.
Two free concerts will take place during the festival. Saturday's concert will feature the Glass City Swing Band at 2 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium. On Sunday, Swing City will perform in the same space at 12:30 p.m.
Sunday's highlight is the new Speed Carving Contest in which four of DiMartino's carvers will compete to create the crowd's favorite sculpture in less than 30 minutes. The winner will be determined by popular vote.
Holly Mowrey, director of the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, estimates that 4,000 to 5,000 people attend the event every year.
“It's a nice family event,” Mowrey says. “It's something fun to do at the end of January.”
Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Johnston must reach Malkin in Moscow
- Steelers are in familiar territory going into training camp in Latrobe
- Liriano, Snider lift Pirates to a victory over Dodgers at PNC Park
- School board bans book in haste
- Pirates notebook: Recovering Cole exceeds expectations in simulated game
- New Penguins coach to meet with Malkin
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion
- Interest high for Heinz Field soccer match between top Euro teams
- Truck drivers taken to hospital after Pa. Turnpike crash in Butler County
- 1,600 StubHub accounts breached, N.Y. official says
- Quaker Valley HOF inductee Perciavalle’s career full of surprising turns