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Pennsylvania winter festivals make for February fun

Shirley McMarlin
| Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, 12:54 p.m.
Pennsylvania communities make the most of frigid February temperatures with snow and ice festivals.
Pennsylvania communities make the most of frigid February temperatures with snow and ice festivals.
Horse-drawn carriage rides are part of the charm of the Jim Thorpe Winterfest, set for Feb. 17-18 in the small Carbon County seat.
Horse-drawn carriage rides are part of the charm of the Jim Thorpe Winterfest, set for Feb. 17-18 in the small Carbon County seat.

T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month, but shouldn't that have been February? Except for Mardi Gras on the 13th and Valentine's Day following, what is there to look forward to but more snow and cold?

Well, these Pennsylvania communities are taking advantage of what Mother Nature throws at them, and turning it into weekends full of ice carving, music, food and fun. Find details at

Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival, Feb. 2-3

On opening night, professional ice carvers create frozen masterpieces to line Hufnagle Park in this Union County community. Some are large enough for climbing on and exploring, and all are good for photo ops. The fun continues with children's activities in the park and at various sites around town. There's a Frosty 5K and a polar bear plunge.

Fuel up with a pancake breakfast and chili cook-off, and top it off with a treat at the Chocolate Lovers Festival or kid-friendly Cocoa Fest. Live music is featured both days, including an a capella concert showcasing singers from local Bucknell University.

Franklin on Ice, Feb. 3

Non-stop fun is packed into this one-day celebration, centering around Fountain Park in the Venango County town. Ice carvers work all day chiseling works of art out of blocks of ice, ending with a speed carving contest.

The day starts with a buckwheat pancake and sausage breakfast, followed by a chili cook-off. Live bands play various venues throughout the day, and old movies screen at the local theater in the evening. The local library offers kids' activities and merchants have indoor sidewalk sales.

Visitors also can view the Third Annual Nature Art Showcase, a free public art display featuring 40 artists that will be going on in downtown Franklin.

Lititz Fire & Ice Festival, Feb. 16-19

The event starts at 5 p.m. Friday with live ice carvings and musical entertainment in the town square. Broad and Main streets in the Lancaster County town will be closed to accommodate ice sculptures and food trucks. Restaurants and retailers will offer specials.

Ice sculptures will set up around Broad and Main Streets and in the front of Lititz Springs Park. The festival, now in its 13th year, also features a chili cook-off, kids' carnival and vendor fair.

Clarks Summit Festival of Ice, Feb. 16-19

Large-scale ice carvings line downtown streets in this Lackawanna County borough, with past favorites including Shrek, a T-Rex, Bigfoot and a hefty "Hollywood" sign. The festival opens with a parade and ice sculptors work all weekend long.

At the Family Fun Fair, visitors find face-painting, storytelling, clowns, crafts and games. The Frozen Games offer a chilly twist on tests of physical endurance and skill; there are gentler Kids Games for the younger set.

Music and food is spread throughout the town, with complimentary trolley rides shuttling visitors among main points. Horse and carriage rides also are available.

Jim Thorpe Winterfest, Feb. 17-18

This festival adds a twist by featuring carvers working all weekend in both ice and wood, with many of the wood carvings being available for purchase.

Live entertainment includes bands, concerts and ensembles from areas surrounding the small Carbon County seat. Civil War re-enactors execute marching drills and re-create battles.

Many local restaurants and shops have extended hours and special deals, museums and the opera house are open, and horse-drawn carriage rides are offered. A can't-miss activity is the mug walk — purchase a souvenir mug and businesses throughout town will fill it when you stop in.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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