Get ready to bundle up and hit the streets of Lititz because the Fire & Ice Festival is back from February 17-26. The 10-day festival features ice sculptures and live carvings by DiMartino Ice Company, shopping at downtown businesses, warm bites and beverages from food trucks and restaurants and a family-friendly scavenger hunt. Special activities and events will also be taking place throughout the festival, including the return of the Lititz Lions Chili Cook-Off and Fire in the Park after a two-year hiatus.
Meet the Artist: Jared McAlister
Jared McAlister has been around ice sculpting his entire life. His grandfather, Art DiMartino, started DiMartino Ice Company in 1968 as an ice packaging company. However, as the business is located in Jeannette, Westmoreland County, the business needed a way to stay relevant during the winter months when demand for packaged ice decreased. Jared’s uncle, Ernie DiMartino, learned how to carve ice from a neighbor and thus, a new division of the family business was born.
Jared represents the third generation to be involved in the family business. After receiving a chainsaw for Christmas at the age of 14, Jared began to learn the art of ice sculpting and eventually apprenticed under his Uncle Ernie, as well as other sculptors at the company. Ahead of the Lititz Fire & Ice Festival, Jared gave us a glimpse into his craft.
Q: What is the process for creating a sculpture and how long does it take?
A: I always tell people it took me 22 years to carve their sculpture because it’s a skill that is improved with time and experience. When I first started, it would take me hours to do a single block of ice that I can now do in 30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half depending on the design. The larger giants we do live take sometimes hours to concept and design, about an hour or more to build and up to four hours to carve.
Q: What is your favorite piece that you’ve sculpted?
A: I did a huge interactive dragon that you could sit on and “fly.” We did a smaller version in Lititz a few years back, but that was a fun one for me. I like anything with a lot of intricate detail or of an abstract nature.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: I love live carving. It is the most fun part because I can’t answer the phone or look at emails.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the Lititz Fire & Ice Festival?
A: I really like the community here. We always have such a warm welcome from everyone in the town. The food is great here and the event always has a ton of activities going on in addition to the ice. It’s also a nice drive from western PA.
For more information on DiMartino Ice Company, visit dimartinoice.com.
Kick off the festival at Winter’s Coolest Night Out on February 16 from 6-9 p.m. The ticketed launch party at Lititz Shirt Factory will feature a live ice carving, musical entertainment and the opening of the Local Eyes Photography Exhibit. Tickets also include hors d’oeuvres and one free drink at the Collusion Tap Works bar. Additional food and drinks will be available for purchase. Tickets are $40 and limited to adults over the age of 21.
The Local Eyes Photography Exhibition will feature iconic images taken in and around Lititz. Located on the second floor of Lititz Shirt Factory, the exhibit will be available throughout the 10-day festival during the venue’s hours.
Participating bars and restaurants will be offering on-theme drinks and treats throughout the festival as part of the Fire & Ice Themed Pub Crawl. Be sure to stop by Lititz Springs Inn & Spa for a drink at the ice bar or have your entrée cooked over an open fire at Blackworth Live Fire Grill.
Take a break from the cold on February 18 during the Lititz Lions Chili Cook-Off, Vendor Fair & Kids Carnival. Held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Warwick High School, purchase a chili-tasting pin to enjoy warm chili and fun activities at the Lititz Leo’s Kids Carnival. For more information, visit lititzlions.org.
While the kids are off from school for Presidents’ Day (February 20), bring them to Winter FUNderland in Lititz Springs Park. Kids can enjoy activities and games from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., including a 60-foot-long bouncy obstacle course, fire and ice demonstrations by the Lancaster Science Factory, a performance by the Hooley School of Irish Dance, games, treats and more.
The festival’s closing weekend will focus on the fire element of the festival. Fun & Fire in the Park, on February 24-26, will feature free fire performances in Lititz Springs Park. More information on scheduling is available on the festival’s website. During Sunday Funday (February 26), also enjoy family-friendly activities including live music, corn hole, roasting marshmallows and more.
On February 25-26, visit the Lititz Maker’s Market: Fire & Ice Edition where local artists and makers will showcase their work in the heated comfort of Linden Hall’s gymnasium from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day.
For more information, visit lititzpa.com/event/fire-ice-festival.