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Ice festival chipping into Niles economy

Block by block and piece by piece, ice sculptors Dean Demaris and Burr Rasmussen, both from Texas, work together to create stunning works of art.

“This one is gonna be a castle.  They weigh in the neighborhood of 6,000 or 8,000 pounds,” says Demaris.

This week, more than 170 blocks of ice were hauled in, weighing more than 30 tons. 

“There will be ice sculptures placed throughout downtown,” says Hunter Ice Festival organizer Lucy McCauslin.  “On Saturday, all of the carvers will be doing live carvings. On street corners, we’ll have all of them doing their craft. They’ll be big pieces on the street corners.”

The ice sculptures are chipping in to the Niles economy.

“The Festival has an impact of a quarter of a million dollars that goes to the greater Niles area,” said McCauslin. “ People come from Illinois, Ohio, Lansing to go to this festival.  On Saturday, we’ll have over 20,000 people in our downtown.” 

The festival is free to the public, but buttons can be purchased to support the festival and other activities throughout the year in Niles.

“It’s something fun to do in the middle of winter when there isn’t much to do,” said McCauslin.  

Carving for the fourth consecutive year, Demaris and Rasmussen know the festival is making a difference in the community.

“The city is benefiting off of it and there’s gonna be thousands of people here Saturday,” said Demaris.

Ice sculptors say they will finish the castle by Wednesday.

The Hunter Ice Festival kicks off Friday.
 

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