SOUTH HAVEN —Nearly 50 ice sculptures and piping hot chili from 29 restaurants will greet people when they attend South Haven’s popular Ice Breaker wintertime festival.
Now in its 26th year, Ice Breaker will begin Friday and continue through Sunday in downtown South Haven.
Professional and amateur ice carvers will get up bright and early Saturday to begin making their creations, which are sponsored by local businesses.
Some of the sculptures planned so far include a basket of flowers, a mermaid and a green T-rex.
“Another cool one is McFdden’s Friendly Motors who will have one with a bunch of coins frozen in it and they will have a contest to guess the number of coins,” said Kathy Wagaman, executive director of the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes Ice Breaker.
As people view the finished sculptures downtown, they also can enjoy samples of chili, prepared by eateries throughout South Haven. While most chili recipes will be of the hot variety, one restaurant, Captain Nemo’s, will be serving up ice cream chili.
While the tried-and-true events like the ice sculpture competition and chili cook-off attract a crowd of locals and visitors to downtown each year, newer activities are vying for crowd attention as well, which pleases Wagaman.
“We have worked so hard to add many activities for kids and families,” she said.
One of the newer events – the Snowsuit Fashion Contest – gets underway at 7 p.m. Friday at South Haven Brewpub.
The offbeat, humorous show in which people dress up in snowsuits hoping to win tongue-in-cheek awards for “Don’t Judge Me, It’s Warm,” or “Sub-Zero Fashion,” will feature a new twist this year.
Contestants will be allowed to bring their dressed up dogs to walk down the runway for a “Strut Your Mutt” show. Don’t have a dog? Don’t worry. Shelter animals from Al-Van Humane Society will be on hand to walk down the runway if needed.
Another Ice Breaker event that has become a hit since its inception two years ago is the Cardboard Sled Race. When it debuted in 2017, 50 adults and youth worked hard to create sleds out of cardboard and duct tape to race down the Lighthouse Keepers House sledding hill. Last year, the number of entries nearly doubled.
“Many kids created wonderful sleds last year and had such fun competing,” Wagaman said.
This year’s race will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, at Michigan Avenue and St. Joseph Street, next to the Michigan Maritime Museum’s Historic Light Keepers House.
For people who like offbeat, fun events, the festival has another one to offer: The Frozen Fish Fling contest. Last year was the first year for the event, and it proved to be a crowd-pleaser, attracting 200 participants and 400 spectators who watched to see which adults could cast their fish the farthest. Kids got into the act too, but flung fake fish instead.
In all, the festival will feature 16 different outdoor and indoor activities for children and adults. To make parking easier, the Chamber of Commerce is offering a free shuttle from noon-10 p.m., Saturday, when most of the festival’s events take place. The shuttle will loop continuously throughout the day with stops at American Legion Post, 129 Michigan Ave., South Haven City Hall back parking lot on Quaker Street; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, 1070 S. Bailey Ave., and Moose Lodge Family Center, 1025 E. Wells St.