A warmhearted committee of volunteers started an event in 2014 to help crack Wayne County’s winter doldrums.

That event, the Meltdown Winter Ice Festival, has continued to grow and offer new activities for all ages while keeping general admission free.

It’s now time for the festival to return next week for its 10th year. Activities kick off Jan. 24, but most are scheduled for Jan. 27-28.

Professional ice carvers from around the country will start their work early in the week, preparing sculptures for display. The first event offers the opportunity to meet an ice carver demonstrating their craft, followed by a hot chocolate bar, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at Morrisson-Reeves Library, 80 N. Sixth St.

It is followed by the Chili for Charity event at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25, also at the library. Local non-profits will offer samples of their chili as they compete for honors, and a $10 ticket bought at the door with cash offers unlimited tastes while supplies last.

Visitors get up close and personal with ice sculptures during the 2018 Meltdown Winter Ice Festival in Richmond. Photo by Stephanie Harrison Photography

While many of the event’s activities are based in Jack Elstro Plaza, 47 N. Sixth St. in downtown Richmond and in the Historic Depot District, others are scattered around Richmond, Centerville and Fountain City.

Several additional events such as live music and theater in nearby venues will complement the ice-themed offerings.

The festival relies on donations and sponsorships. So far, more than 50 sponsors are offering support for this year’s event, and 3Rivers Federal Credit Union is the presenting sponsor.

Individuals or businesses wanting to contribute should email monica.koechlein@gmail.com by Jan. 20 and note “I’d like to sponsor Meltdown” in the subject line.

Meltdown Winter Ice Festival schedule

All events in Richmond unless otherwise noted.

  • Jan. 24: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Meet a Carver, Morrisson-Reeves Library, 80 N. Sixth St. Watch carvers work up close and make a drink at the hot chocolate bar.
  • Jan. 25: 5:30-7 p.m. Chili for Charity, Morrisson-Reeves Library, 80 N. Sixth St. Community organizations offer their best recipes in a friendly competition. $10 per person for unlimited samples while supplies last. Tickets (cash only) sold at the door.
  • Jan. 26-30: #MeltdownIceArt Hashtag Contest. Snap photos of the ice sculptures and share them on Instagram. Each entry is eligible for one of three prize baskets.

Jan. 27

  • Free snowflake ornament painting, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 27 and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 28, Paint the Towne, 411 N. Eighth St.
  • Come Build a Snowman Sundae with Olaf and Find the Frozen Snowflake Fairy, 5-8 p.m. Jan. 27 and noon-6 p.m. Jan. 28, Ullery’s Homemade Ice Cream, 168 Fort Wayne Ave., and at Jack Elstro Plaza, 47 N. Sixth St.
  • “Frozen”-themed Costume Contest, 6-7 p.m., Ullery’s Homemade Ice Cream, 168 Fort Wayne Ave. For ages 12 and younger.
  • Family Play Zone, from 6 p.m. Jan. 27 to 10 p.m. Jan. 28. Interactive ice elements at Elstro Plaza, 47 N. Sixth St.
  • Food trucks, 6-10 p.m. Jan. 27 and noon-10 p.m. Jan. 28, Elstro Plaza

Jan. 28

  • Hayes Hikes, Hot Chocolate and Crafts: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Hayes Arboretum, 801 Elks Road.
  • Quilting Blocks and Binding Threads, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Levi and Catharine Coffin House State Historic Site, 201 U.S. 27., Fountain City. Take a special walk through the house to discover the art and history of quilts and coverlets with retired Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites curator Mary Jane Eichacker-Kaufman, then discuss their history. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for seniors. Registration is required by Jan. 27. For ages 18-plus.
  • Wonder of Winter Art Show, Craft and Refreshments, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Cope Environmental Center, 1730 Airport Road, Centerville. Hikes led by a naturalist available from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Art will be displayed through February.
  • Home of the Ice Age Giants, 12:30-2 p.m., Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College, 801 National Road W. Activity stations and crafts. View gigantic fossil skeletons.
  • Music and Magic, 1:30-7:15 p.m., The Reid Center, 1004 N. A St. Start time, entertainer and genre: 1:30 – Faith and Practice, folk; 2:15 – Mononymous Rae, multigenre; 3 – magic by Haus of Magic; 3:45 – Charles Ramsey, ambient meditative; 4:30 – Debbie Morena, indie pop/rhythm and blues; 5:15 – Tyler Michael Walton and The Mayflower Satchel, honky-tonk; 6 – poetry by Wayne County Writers; 6:45 – Achilles Tenderloin, folk
  • Winter-themed movie, 2 p.m., Goddard Auditorium at Earlham’s Carpenter Hall, 801 National Road W.
  • Ice cream eating contest, 4 p.m., Elstro Plaza. Teams of public employees already chosen to compete.
  • Meltdown Throwdown, 7:30 p.m., Elstro Plaza. Two teams of ice carvers compete on stage; the audience decides who wins.

Find additional nearby events and updates at richmondmeltdown.com

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.