Annual ice festival continues in Niles with changes due to COVID-19

NOW: Annual ice festival continues in Niles with changes due to COVID-19

NILES, Mich. -- The annual Hunter Ice Festival that brings hundreds of people to Niles each year has been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. But, organizers say there will still be ice sculptures scattered around Niles this weekend.

Ice sculptors have used around 128 blocks of ice to make this year's sculptures. This year, people can expect bigger ice sculptures than in previous years.

“We take 900 pounds of ice and we sculpt it into something that goes from a block to something that you know kids can enjoy parents can enjoy, just anyone can enjoy,” Ice sculptor Aaric Kendall said.

Kendall has been preparing for the ice show with four other ice sculptors. He said depending on the design of the ice sculptor, it can take up to half an hour to an hour and a half per 300-pound ice to carve a sculptor. Earlier this week organizers posted to Facebook that there will be ice but no festival this year. The ice show started 17 years ago, bringing in ice carvers from around the country. Usually, there would be around 60 to 80 small sculptures placed in front of businesses and lots of events and activities during the celebration.

This year, there will be between eight to 10 larger interactive ice sculptures placed visibly throughout the town, so people can easily see the carvings if they decided to drive or walk by them.

“With the world the way it is, we still want to sculpt ice. that's our job, that’s our passion and that’s what we want to do. so, we’re still here we’re sculpting ice it's just going to be bigger than what it normally looks like,” Kendall said.

Depending on the weather and if it's cold enough, the sculptures could be around for a couple of weeks.

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