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Cripple Creek Ice Festival goes with Old West theme

February 11, 2016 Updated: February 11, 2016 at 1:03 pm
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photo - Cripple Creek Ice Festival 2015.
Cripple Creek Ice Festival 2015. 

10 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday and Feb. 20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday and Feb. 21, Bennett Avenue, Cripple Creek, free; 1-877-858-4653, visitcripplecreek.com

Something else: Free parking at the Heritage Center, 9283 Colorado 67, free shuttle service to the event 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Full-time ice carver probably isn't an option on career day.

But that's the way it worked out for Laurie Petty, the owner of Dazzling Ice in Loveland. She serendipitously made her way into ice sculpture construction about 16 years ago and now has to turn clients away. She and her team of sculptors will transform 170 blocks of ice into a town maze at this year's Cripple Creek Ice Festival.

The free event is Saturday through Monday and Feb. 20-21, though the carving has already started along Bennett Avenue.

"I was always kind of artistic," Petty says. "Ice sculpture is like construction. A block of ice weighs 300 pounds, so it can't be too top heavy but it has to be pleasing to the eye as well."

About 90,000 people attend the festival to watch carvers create something out of nothing with chainsaws, regular household irons and water. Vendors, live music and an outdoor bar round out the weekend.

"It's amazing to watch ice turn into artwork," says Eric Rose, president of the Cripple Creek Chamber of Commerce and general manager of Century Casino Cripple Creek, "and it's in your own backyard."

Fifteen ice carvers will create a dozen pieces out of 430 blocks of ice in keeping with the "How the West Was Carved" festival theme. Expect to see a mountain with a train, an Old West town and a stagecoach and horses. And, as always, there'll be a slide for the kids to fly down.

If a weekend trip isn't doable, visitors can drive up during the week and check out the ice creations, though it's not guaranteed they'll see any sculptors at work.

"Cripple Creek is important. It's a big deal for us," says Petty. "That's the best ice art you're ever going to see in Colorado. There's no other place you can see that much ice all at once."

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM

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