It was 9:00 a.m. and The Works was beginning to fill up quickly. At around 10:30 a.m., a majority of the chairs at Prime Roast were filled. Although it is normal for many businesses to see an influx of customers as the day goes on, Feb. 4 was an exception.
This past Saturday, Keene held its 15th annual Ice and Snow Festival, where locals and visitors came together to experience the event.
Events were planned throughout the day, with a schedule posted in front of Local Burger for all to see.
The day began at 10:00 a.m. with the four ice sculptors unloading their tools. They spent a majority of the day carving, melting and shaping blocks of ice into other forms.
This year, the carvers, Eric Knoll, Dennis Hickey, David Soha and Mike Rondeau carved a giraffe, a sign advertising the festival, a dragon and a fish, respectively.
Knoll, originally from York, Pennsylvania, began carving about five to six years ago while at culinary school. Saturday marked his third year of competing in Keene’s Ice and Snow Festival.
Knoll’s girlfriend, Lacasse Evaline of Nashua, New Hampshire, said, “I think it’s…really cool. I haven’t gotten a chance to walk around yet, but I know that there’s…a lot of people competing today…”
While some of the competitors have only been involved in Keene’s Ice and Snow Festival for a few years, such as Knoll, others are reaching double digits.
“We’ve been competing here at least 14 years,” said Hickey, shouting to Soha, his business partner, for confirmation.
Hickey and Soha own their own ice carving limited liability company (LLC) called Ice Breakers. According to their website, the two “have been carving together since 1997” and serve “New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Southern Maine.”
While the sculpting occurred, individuals were able to participate in other activities such as making s’mores, taking pictures with an airport snowblower, watching some live entertainment and meeting the Ice Princess.
This year, the Ice Princess was played by Heather Harada, The Keene Sentinel’s Classified Sales Representative in the Advertising and Marketing Department.
“…It’s just my first year…but for four years I’ve been wanting to do this…I’m like four years in the making; I’m so proud,” she said. As Ice Princess, she “grant[ed people] cold toes” and let younger children hold her snowflake wand.
At the end of the festival, around 3:00 p.m., the winner of the ice carving competition was announced. Hickey had taken first place, and received a $500 cash reward. Second place was awarded to Soha, who took home $300. Rondeau and Knoll were both awarded $100 for their sign and giraffe, respectively.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at email@example.com