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Fire, ice headed for Havre de Grace next weekend

Contact Reporterecompton@baltsun.com

It’s the middle of winter — instead of hunkering down on the sofa, members of the Havre de Grace Alliance want to get residents outside to enjoy the season.

The first Fire and Ice Festival is planned for downtown on Jan. 19 from 3 to 7 p.m. and Jan. 20 from noon to 4 p.m.

It will be a First Fridays-type event, but with 30 lit ice sculptures throughout downtown streets, according to Bambi Johnson, executive director of the Havre de Grace Alliance. The group is sponsoring the event with the support of Visit Harford!, the county’s tourism organization.

“January is typically a slow month for merchants, there are no holidays and people are in the winter doldrums following Christmas and the new year,” Johnson said. “This is something to pull people off their sofas, out of the winter blues.”

Downtown merchants purchased ice sculptures — provided by Ice Lab in Rosedale — to be displayed in front of their businesses.

In addition to the ice sculptures, the festival includes a showing of “Frozen” for children, as well as appearances Elsa in a live Elsa show. A prince and princess will be crowned among children dressed in their favorite character for a parade. Ice carvers will provide demonstrations both days.

Visitors can play cornhole on boards made from ice and have their pictures taken on the ice throne.

And there will be snow, Johnson said, even if it has to come from a machine.

“But the forecast is a chance for snow next weekend,” she said.

On the fire side, six restaurants will compete in a chili cookoff. The winner, as determined by festival-goers who pay $5 to taste each of the chilis, earns a trophy that will travel to the winning restaurant year to year, Johnson said.

MacGregor’s will host Lord of the Wings, a hot-wing eating contest at 1 p.m. Sunday, which costs $10 to enter. Participants will be given a plate of wings covered in “very, very, very hot sauce,” Johnson said, and anyone who can finish the plate of wings moves on to the championship.

Other hot features include a fire eater, fire pits and a fire engine, she said.

The Cultural Center at the Opera House will get in on the festival when it hosts the Hot Club of Balitmore, an internationally acclaimed acoustic jazz ensemble specializing in the style known as “Le Jazz Hot,” an inspiring type of swing music, on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 to $20.

“Frozen” will be shown at the Cultural Center at 11 a.m. Saturday ($6) with a live “Elsa and Friends” at 1 p.m. Sunday ($5).

The festival kicks off Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. with a Cocktail Kindle at Vandiver Inn. Tickets are $20 and include desserts and hot chocolate.

The Alliance hopes to make the festival an annual event, Johnson said.

“Really, we just want to bring people into downtown Havre de Grace, get in to see the merchants and add a little bit of a spark of life in the dead of winter,” she said.

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