Fire and ice-carving at Winterfest 2019

By Susan Mustapich | Feb 05, 2019
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The fire dancing of Dark Follies Vaudeville creates the perfect illusion of warmth at Camden Winterfest 2019.

CAMDEN — On one side of the Camden Public Library Amphitheater, a fire dancer twirled hula hoops festooned with torches, while on the other side, school and community groups chiseled away at crystal-clear ice blocks.

This was the scene Feb. 2, on the very chilly morning of Winterfest 2019.

The music makers of Dark Follies Vaudeville braved the cold, using drums and tamborines to accompany their dancers, who were not wearing as much as those who gathered in a large semicircle to watch the entertainment.

Across the way, chef and master ice-carver Tim Pierce took a chainsaw to 300-pound blocks of ice. Gracefully weilding the noisy power tool, he cut out the outlines of fantastic creatures for the groups who were ready to carve. About half of the ice blocks were purchased and donated for school and community groups.

The crystaline ice was delivered by Valley Ice Co, of Bartlett, N.H., the afternoon of Feb. 1, and unloaded by eager volunteers Abe Dugal, Al Cooper, Matt Brown and Hector Pietra-Santa. With clear skies and temperatures in the teens, there was no concern this year that the ice might melt.

Pietra-Santa, a sculptor, was also on hand Feb. 2 to assist Pierce, he said. Surrounded by  bits of ice flying all around as the groups of young people chipped away at their work, he said the smiles and the looks on their faces were what the ice-carving was all about.

Winterfest 2019 continues through the week, culminating with the Toboggan National Championships at the Snow Bowl

Feb. 7

7:30 p.m Mallet Brothers with Oshima Brothers, Camden Opera House. Tickets $22.

Feb 8 & 9

7 p.m. Banff Film Festival, Strom Auditorium, Camden Hills Regional High School. Tickets are $10 adults/$5 students at Maine Sport Outfitters, Route 1, Rockport and Main Street, Camden; $12/$5 plus handling fee at and at the door, if not sold out.

Feb. 8-10

Toboggan National Championships, at the Snow Bowl. Feb. 8, teams sign in; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., toboggan chute open, $5, free with race bracelet. Feb. 9, beginning 8 a.m., race begins 2-, 3- and 4-person teams; noon, costume contest parade, Tobogganville. Feb. 10, beginning 9 a.m. second and final runs for all teams; 3 p.m. awards ceremony Tobogganville. For bus shuttle and ski mountain information, visit

Feb. 9

4:30 to 7:30 p.m. West Bay Rotary Chili Challenge, 16 Bay View, lower level, downtown Camden.

Feb. 10

4 p.m. Banff Film Festival continues, Strom Auditorium.

Dark Follies Vaudeville fire dance Camden Winterfest 2019
The Dark Follies Vaudeville troup's fire dancer drew a crowd in the Camden Public Library Amphitheater Feb. 2 during Winterfest 2019. (Video by: Susan Mustapich)
At the Winterfest Carnival, Sweetland School students carve a gargoyle in memory of artist Eva Thompson, who taught at the school's community arts program, from a block of ice donated by her husband, Mike. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Jim Rietz and friends chose a horizontal design for their ice-carving creation at Winterfest 2019 in the Camden Public Library Amphitheater. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
A wolf emerges from the block of ice carved by students from Riley School, during Winterfest at the Camden Public Library Amphitheater Feb. 2. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
The Lally family's fantastic figure is one of the first to emerge at Winterfest Feb. 2. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Chef and master ice-carver Tim Pierce takes a chainsaw to a block of ice to assist team Station Maine to begin their work. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
The Station Maine team scopes out their plan to carve all of the details into their fantastic beast. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Station Maine's design is drawn to the scale of the 300-pound, 20-by-40-inch block of ice. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
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