Professional ice carvers from around the country have begun arriving in Wayne County and are ready to get out their chisels and chain saws. 

Between now and Saturday, the 11th annual Meltdown Winter Ice Festival will offer indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.  

Many of the events are free for the public, and most are taking place in or near Elstro Plaza, 47 N. Sixth St., Richmond.  

Passersby can view a finished sculpture of a fish in downtown Richmond during the 2023 Meltdown. WWN file photo

Andrew Thistlethwaite, who has Richmond ties, is part of the carving team that will work with more than 20,000 pounds of ice and create a variety of characters and scenes. 

Some of the carvers work as chefs for universities, hospitals and other facilities when not traveling to carve ice.  

Thistlethwaite and his fellow carvers have won numerous prizes at national and world ice art competitions. 

Their sculptures will be displayed in Richmond’s downtown for browsing by foot or from vehicles until they melt (which could happen quickly, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-to-high 40s as the festival begins).  

Here are some schedule highlights: 

Wednesday, Jan. 24

  • Meet an Ice Carver: 3:30-4:30 p.m., Morrisson-Reeves Library, 80 N. Sixth St. Watch their work up close. 
  • Chili for Charity: 5:30-7 p.m., also at Morrisson-Reeves. A $10 ticket includes 12 samples from local restaurants in a friendly competition to help nonprofits. Pay cash at the door. 

Thursday, Jan. 25

  • Costume contest: 5:30 p.m., Paint the Towne, 411 N. Eighth St., in partnership with Ullery’s Ice Cream. Ages 0-12 are encouraged to wear a “Frozen” movie costume and enjoy hot chocolate, treats and giveaways.

Friday, Jan. 26 

  • Pizza/arcade event: 5:30 p.m., Suzie’s Pizza, 820 E. Main St., and Retro Rush Arcade, 100 N. Ninth St., Richmond. Start with pizza party before all arcade access. $10 ticketed event. 
  • Family Fun Zone: 5:30-10 p.m., Elstro Plaza. Free games made of ice (previous examples include table tennis, skee ball and an ice slide) and photo opportunities. Food trucks on site until 10 p.m.  
  • Ice carving demonstration: 6 p.m., Elstro Plaza. 

Saturday, Jan. 27

A carving of a guitarist is completed at Elstro Plaza in downtown Richmond during the 2023 Meltdown. WWN file photo

Throughout the day, various activities, shopping and photo opportunities will be offered downtown. The fun zone opens at 9 a.m. at Elstro Plaza.  

  • Farmers’ Market: 9 a.m.-noon, Starr-Gennett Building, 101 S. First St.
  • Free hot chocolate: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Hayes Arboretum Nature Center, 801 Elks Road, Richmond. Free. First 50 receive reusable cup. 765-962-3745
  • Food trucks: noon-10 p.m., Elstro Plaza
  • Pop-In Market: 1-4 p.m., Richmond Neighborhood Restoration storefront, 724 E. Main St. Crafts and giveaways.
  • Ice Age activity stations: 1-4 p.m., Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College, 801 National Road W. For all ages. Free.  
  • Ullery’s Ice Cream Eating Contest: 4 p.m., Elstro Plaza. Local teams of public employees will compete. Participants have been chosen. 
  • Meltdown Throwdown competition: 7:30 p.m., Elstro Plaza. Two teams of skilled carvers battle it out on stage to create sculptures. The audience decides who wins, followed by fireworks. 

More details about events and any updates can be found at or on the festival’s Facebook page.   

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A version of this article appeared in the January 24 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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