Vermilion — Everyone loves a celebration. But what is there to celebrate in the middle of a dreary Ohio winter when everything is encrusted in ice?
The ice, of course.
Several towns around the Buckeye State embrace the wintry chill with annual ice festivals. Although most were canceled last year because of the pandemic, many are back, including the delightful Ice A Fair in downtown Vermilion held the first Saturday in February. This year’s event is scheduled for Feb. 5.
Vermillion's Ice A Fair is February 5
Located along the sometimes-ice cube known as Lake Erie, Vermilion is known more to fair-weather visitors, who come for the (melted) water, boating, fishing and all the summer attractions on the lake.
But the town just east of Sandusky is lovely any time of the year, something local boosters try to emphasize each winter with Ice A Fair (www.mainstreetvermilion.org).
“We don’t want people to be in the habit of thinking that once winter comes, (Vermilion) shuts down,” said Marilou Suszko, executive director of Main Street Vermilion.
Ice A Fair activities begin at 11 a.m. Visitors will find Vermilion’s quaint, historic downtown filled with ice sculptures and can watch ice-carving demonstrations throughout the day.
A frozen play space for kids will feature an eight-foot dragon sculpture, an ice slide and cornhole games.
Grownups will find wintery cocktails and beers and hearty cold-weather fare such as chili at several downtown and area restaurants.
Other downtown businesses will feature sales and specials throughout the day.
Guests can also hop aboard a trolley for a 25-minute narrated tour of the historic Harbour Town and Linwood Park neighborhoods. Trolley tickets cost $2 per person or $5 per family; face masks required.
Just after sunset, the day’s finale will be held at the center of downtown, where fire and ice will be pitted against each other in a battle royal. As a roaring fire burns inside a giant chimney of ice, music and a fire-dancing performance will entertain guests until the fire topples the ice, or the melting ice puts out the flames.
While in Vermilion, visitors should check out some of the interesting shops downtown such as The Olive Scene, which offers more than 50 olive oils and balsamic vinegars for tasting and sale; Tails of Vermilion, a new and very friendly store selling pet accessories; and Erie & Anchor, specializing in apparel and gifts with a Lake Erie focus and flair.
And visitors won’t be able to miss the many delightful and colorful murals from the town’s award-winning “Postcard Project.” The project reproduces 15 different historic postcards depicting a century of tourist destinations in and around Vermilion such as Crystal Beach Amusement Park, which closed in 1962.
Ice Festival at Farmpark, Bowling Green Winterfest Chillibration, Medina Ice Festival and Burning Snowman Fest
In addition to the Ice A Fair, other icy celebrations scheduled in Ohio this winter include the Ice Festival at Farmpark, a Lake County Metro Park at 8800 Euclid-Chardon Road in Kirtland (www.lakemetroparks.com) from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 29. The festival includes many family-friendly events such as an ice slide, firepits and visits with farm animals, plus a wood-carver versus ice-carver speed competition. Admission is $8, or $6 for children ages 2 to 11.
The city-wide Bowling Green Winterfest Chillibration 2022 (www.winterfestbgohio.com) is scheduled for Feb. 11–12, and includes a “Frozen Swamp Tent” downtown surrounded by an ice garden and winter market. Visitors can also enjoy live entertainment, snacks, craft beer and wine and carriage rides.
The Medina Ice Festival (www.mainstreetmedina.com) is scheduled to take place in downtown Medina Feb. 18-21, with ice-carving demonstrations, a “fire and ice tower” and an ice sculpture garden on the historic town square.
And finally, Port Clinton will say goodbye to winter (we all hope) at the Burning Snowman Fest (www.facebook.com/BurningSnowman/) on Feb. 26 at Dock’s Beach House, 252 W. Lakeshore Drive. The event includes live entertainment beginning at noon, craft beers and, of course, the burning of a giant snowman at 7 p.m., with all proceeds going to charity. Ticket information is pending.
Remember, all events are subject to change or cancellation because of the ongoing pandemic, so verify the current status of any festival before venturing out into the cold.
Steve Stephens is a freelance travel writer and photographer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ice Festivals in Ohio embrace what the season has to offer