By SCOTT WEISSER
The Goshen News
Insert “Towering Inferno” and Burning Man analogies here.
The sixth annual, two-day Fire and Ice Festival is this month’s First Fridays event in downtown Goshen, and ice carving and a chili contest will again be featured. New this year is a spectacle well in keeping with the “Fire and Ice” theme.
A 16-block, nearly 8-foot-tall ice tower will be set up around a bonfire on East Washington Street. The fire will be lit at 7 p.m. The public is invited to watch the fire burn and the ice melt.
“We have permission from all the necessary authorities” for the bonfire, Downtown Goshen Inc. director Gina Leichty said. DGI promotes the monthly First Fridays festival.
Also Friday, members of the Michiana Ice Carvers Association will be working on 300-pound blocks of ice in front of downtown businesses. Two double-block (600-pound) sculptures and a triple-block (900-pound) creation are also planned downtown.
“We’ll probably start early afternoon and go all the way through the evening,” said Greg Beachy of the Ice Carvers Association.
The “fire dancers” of Pyrotation Nation will be making a return appearance this year. Fire-spinning showcases will take place throughout the downtown Friday night, with a grand finale set for 7 p.m. on East Washington Street.
Warming stations will be set up for the public Friday, and children are invited to roast marshmallows on East Washington Street from 6 to 9 p.m. Also Friday, free chili and music by the Boomer Boys are on tap at Goshen City Church of the Brethren, 203 N. Fifth St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, an ice carving competition is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. downtown. The top three winners will earn cash prizes.
Staffers at various Goshen eateries will also compete in the annual “Chili Fire” contest Saturday. Free tickets are available to the first 250 people to pick them up starting at 10 a.m. at the Goshen Theater, 216 S. Main St. Diners must have a ticket to participate.
The contest runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Leichty said chili cooks at Rachel’s Bread, 212 W. Washington St., and Elks Lodge #768, 220 N. Main, are first-time participants this year. Other venues in the chili contest are Constant Spring, 219 S. Main, The Electric Brew, 136 S. Main, Maple City Market, 314 S. Main, Mattern’s Butcher Shop & Corner Deli, 210 S. Main, and San Marcos, 113 S. Main.
Hot chili is fine. Weather-wise, cold and overcast is OK with Beachy. The weather was unseasonably balmy for last year’s Fire and Ice Festival; the afternoon temperature for Friday of January 2012 First Fridays reached 52 degrees. “It was really warm and bright sunshine, and it didn’t go really well,” Beachy said.
First Fridays is a monthly event highlighting the cultural and commercial offerings of downtown Goshen. For more information, visit the website www.cityonthego.org.