EASTON — The town of Easton soon will be lined with giant ice sculptures and fire performances during its inaugural Chesapeake Fire & Ice Festival, scheduled for Feb. 14 through 16, in the downtown area.
The free-admission event, hosted by Discover Easton, will feature an ice skating rink, live ice carvings, live music, fire spinning, family entertainment, a light display and a self-guided tour of 25 to 35 ice sculptures that will be placed throughout commercial downtown.
Ross Benincasa, director of Discover Easton, described the event to the Easton Town Council on Monday, Dec. 2.
He said a temporary ice skating rink, which will be erected on the grounds of The Bullitt House at 102 East Dover St., will be “totally free” to the public.
He said 75 pairs of skates will be available for people to use, and he expects the cost of the skates and the rink will be covered by sponsorships, through which the event already has brought in $25,000.
Benincasa said Discover Easton hasn’t decided yet on the designs in which the ice sculptures will be carved, but one of the sculptures will depict an automotive theme as a symbol of Preston Automotive Group, one of the event’s sponsors.
Ice Labs, a nationally-renowned, Baltimore-based ice art company, will create all the sculptures for the event. The company’s carvers will sculpt some of the sculptures on site in a live demonstration and some in a workshop. The ice pieces will range in size, weighing between 300 pounds and 3,000 pounds.
The festival is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, with an Ice Block Party, featuring the professional, live ice carvings by Ice Lab; and end Sunday morning, Feb. 16, with a festival-closing Ice Breaker Party, according to an online schedule for the event.
Other festival highlights include For the Love of Books!, presented by Talbot County Free Library and Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15; and Stews and Brews beer festival at the Easton Firehouse from noon to 4 p.m., also on Saturday.
Discover Easton anticipates the festival will draw $15,000 more in sponsorships from local businesses in the months leading up to the event date, which will ensure the entire event is free to the public — with the exception of the beer festival, at $35 per ticket.
Benincasa said the idea for the festival came about a year ago, after residents and members of the town office suggested Easton needed to host more family-friendly events.
“We were able to grow this from a pretty small idea to something unique that really sets us apart as one of the only towns that’s welcoming during the winter on the Eastern Shore,” he said.
Benincasa said Easton needed to be able to compete with St. Michaels, Cambridge, Annapolis and other towns and cities in Maryland “because (Easton) is the second largest town on the Eastern Shore now and (it’s) a 12-month town,” he said.
“We can’t close like St. Michaels (during winter). We can’t close like Ocean City. We needed something in the winter time,” Benincasa said.
Easton Police Department estimates more than 5,000 visitors will attend the weekend-long event in February, based on crowd size data from similar events in other Maryland towns and cities.
Easton Town Council member Al Silverstein said the festival sounds like an “exciting event,” and he’s looking forward to it.
Benincasa acknowledged the unpredictability of winter weather, but said the festival “will run in 99% of situations,” with the exception of a snow storm that closes the roads.
Discover Easton will publish a festival map within the next two weeks to outline sculpture locations and designated parking areas.
For more information about the event, visit https://discovereaston.com/fireandice/