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Enjoy post-Christmas festivities at the Shipshewana Ice Festival

Consider the scenario: Christmas Day 2011 is history. The gifts are put away but out-of-town friends and family linger. What’s a person to do to make the time a bit more memorable for everyone?

They can attend the Shipshewana Ice Festival, that’s what.

The season continues to sparkle with post-Christmas delights Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 28-30, when the town hosts this fifth annual event that garnered the attention of a nationwide newspaper in 2008.

The three-day event showcases the highest concentration of large ice sculptures (10 blocks of ice or more used) between Indiana and Alaska. Professional carvers will begin early on Wednesday by carving their ice blocks all around town, as commissioned by local businesses to create themed designs of their choice. With the carving beginning around 10 a.m., the sculptors will work well into the early evening when the ice sculptures finally reach completion.

On Thursday, the same carvers will show off their skills in a carving competition, held near the Davis Mercantile. The public is also invited to get involved with a snowman-building contest. If Mother Nature hasn’t provided the snow, a snowmaking machine will fulfill the need.

Then on Friday, snowmobile races and a chili cook-off with 10 or more local chefs will kick off at 10 a.m. at the Shipshewana Town Center, located on SR 5/Van Buren St., two blocks south of the flea market. In the past, the snowmobile races have run into the evening hours and gather a large crowd of observers.

As an added bonus, the Shipshewana Ice Festival offers a collectible commemorative pin created each year by a local high school student. This pin enables shoppers to receive special discounts through the end of January.

“This event just gets bigger and better,” said Levi King, originator of the event and owner of several Shipshewana shops. “One year an ice carver sculpted a baby grand piano. He even had the piano propped open. This year I’m told flames will burn in some of the sculptures.”

“Many people in the Amish community attend this event,” local resident Jay Chupp added. “They especially enjoy the snowmobile races. They like to have fun like everybody else does.”

“The kids are still on holiday vacation, and gifts have all been unwrapped, so you’re looking for something to do. This unique event is sure to etch some great family memories onto everyone’s minds,” commented Beth Thornburg, executive director of the LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“People tend to stay indoors in the wintertime and they end up feeling depressed or sad,” King noted. “The Ice Festival is intended to help people have a great time, enjoy winter, and have fun in Shipshewana.”