For the sixth year in a row, Jeff and Precious Kaiser will caravan nearly 1,500 miles from Youngstown, Ohio, with their team of five, two vans and a trailer full of scaffolding and ice-carving equipment to participate in the Cripple Creek Ice Festival.
The Kaisers, who head Team Sub-Zero Hand Crafted Ice Sculptures, love this Colorado tradition.
“It was on the bucket list of things to do, you know,” Jeff Kaiser said. “It’s the largest ice festival in the Lower 48 as far as the size of sculptures that we do.”
Five teams will create giant works of art from stacked blocks of ice at the 12th annual festival, held on Bennett Avenue from Saturday through Feb. 17. The theme for the festival is “Super Heroes in Ice.”
The Sub-Zero team has ordered 110 blocks of ice (roughly 350 pounds each) to sculpt the Halls of Justice facade on the first weekend of the show.
“It’ll be 30 feet long and 16 feet high,” Kaiser said, noting the ice from the show also comes from Ohio. They’re planning to carve a 15-foot-tall Superman holding Wonder Woman for the second weekend. Last year, when the theme was “Renaissance in Ice,” they carved a huge castle.
Sn’ice Snow and Ice Carving from Durango will return to the festival for the third year, and owner Keith Martin plans to portray the darker side of the theme.
“We’re going to do the villains,” he said. “It’s a Spider-Man-based theme with a huge backdrop of Gotham City with the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus.”
Martin will bring a team of five to carve about 100 blocks of ice.
“It’s fun interacting with the crowd. We just have a blast with the kids,” he said. “It’s fun just hanging out with friends, playing with chainsaws ... and breaking hearts.”
The festival attracts more than 90,000 visitors, with the majority of events on weekend days. Stroll Bennett Avenue to take in the sculptures as they take shape. There’ll be an ice slide and ice maze for the kids, carnival games, vendors selling gifts and food, and live music from eight local bands.
Adults 21 and older may enjoy a shot from the liquor luge or a visit to the beer garden. Seventeen of the town’s resident donkeys will be available to admire.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM