Jan 192009
 

A couple of fun activities in February have caught my attention and may be of interest to my guests this month.  One is very close by at Hartland and the other is in Keene, NH about 45 min. away. See the articles below: 

Tiki Torch Trek
Saturday, February 14th

5- 8 pm

Hartland Winter Trails will again host the ever-popular and very fun tiki torch trek. A 3-kilometer trail will be lit with torches and lanterns, and visitors are encouraged to ski, snowshoe, or walk (if there’s no snow) the loop – enjoying the magic of being outside on a winter’s evening. A warm and inviting bonfire will be the place to gather afterward while you enjoy conversation, music, and snacks.  Plenty of delicious food will be provided by local restaurants and is included in the entrance fee.  The location is across from the Hartland Fire Station on Vermont Route 12. Parking at the fire station is very limited, so a shuttle will take participants the short distance from the Hartland Recreation Center in 3-Corners village to the event. The cost for this fundraising event is $7 for those age 12 and older with a family maximum of $20. Children under 12 are free.

For more ino on the Hartland trail system go to http://www.hartlandwintertrails.org/

And from HeartofNewEngland.com an article about this unique event:

  • Need to Know to Enjoy Ice & Snow

    The  Keene Ice & Snow festival happens the second weekend in February.
    Since the Festival lasts from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., you could be
    spending a lot of time outside.  

     

    Considering how fickle Mother Nature can be this time of year, remember
    layers, layers, layers, and a hat and an extra pair of mittens.  Bring your own
    ice skates.  Even though there will be loaners available, your feet will
    appreciate skating in familiar footwear.  The same goes for snowshoes,
    whether you want to compete in the snow show race or just stroll the course.  

    Put together a team of semi-serious snow shapers and try your hands in the
    snow sculpting contest.  Cast a ballot for your favorite ice carvings, and
    automatically be entered to win great prizes.  

    Bring a camera!  This event is free to the public, but Ice & Snow Festival T-
    shirts are available for sale and vendors will be selling delicious
    refreshments with proceeds benefiting a variety non-profit organizations.  

    Call the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce at (603) 352-1303 for details
    and visit the Chamber site at

    Keene, NH’s
    Ice & Snow Festival is Wicked Cool

    By Lorie King Rogers

     

    When my family and I bundled up and headed downtown for Keene’s
    Annual Ice & Snow Festival

    last February, I knew it would be cold, but I
    didn’t realize it would also be so unbelievably cool.  I had no idea that
    colossal ice cubes could be carved and cut into breathtaking, albeit very
    temporary, objets d’art.  

     

    Before I go on to tell you about this fun, frozen fiesta, let me explain why
    it’s so amazing that these high praises are coming from this winter worrier.  
    I don’t like the cold!  After 40+ years of enduring New England winters, one
    might think I’ve warmed up to the cold.  

    NOT.  I don’t like the cold; I don’t like being cold; I don’t like having a cold.  
    But considering I’ve opted to live near my family tree rather than tropical
    palms, I have two choices: 1) spend four or five months every year whining
    about the weather or 2) find something fun to do when it’s freezing.  I chose
    the latter, but I respectfully reserve the right to gripe about the cold when
    necessary.  

    Keene’s Ice & Snow Festival

    • was exactly what I needed to lure me away
      from my cozy home on a chilly winter day and actually enjoy myself
      outside.   And it was COLD.  I don’t recall exactly where the mercury landed
      that day, but on my body thermometer it felt like 20 below.  The temperature
      was a challenge for me, but it was perfect for the ice carvers, snow sculptors,
      skaters, and snowshoers who rely on a sub-32 degree reading for their
      activities.  So, the event planners were pleased.Just as a little history — The Ice & Snow Festival was created by the Greater
      Keene Chamber of Commerce as a way of encouraging people to venture to
      the area between the leaf peeping and summer seasons.  So far, it’s proven to
      be a winner.  Maybe because the popularity of ice carving is growing or
      because this day-long festival offers something for people of all ages and
      combines art, culture, recreation, and sports.  It’s caught on and stuck like a wet tongue on a frozen metal pipe.  In fact, the
      Festival attracted so many professional ice carvers in its first year that it
      became a National Ice Carvers’ Association (NICA) sanctioned event in its
      second, complete with official NICA judges, substantial cash awards to the
      professional winners, and prizes to the amateurs.  

      Now let’s set the scene.  Picture families with rosy-cheeked little ones
      strolling up and down Keene’s quaint New England Main Street, sipping hot
      cocoa as they walk.  Some people are gathered around the campfire toasting
      marshmallows.  Others are ice skating on the outdoor rink, with five-foot
      high snow banks that serve as excellent bumpers for beginners on double
      runners.  And there are those digging into the snow sculpting.  Piles of
      pristine snow were deposited the night before, offering yet another activity
      for Festival-goers.  Everybody could get in on the fun.  

      One family created a life size replica of their beloved pony Frostbite,
      complete with mane and tail fashioned out of hay.  Then, when handling the
      snow became too much, it was over to the campfire for a little thawing
      action.  It was heartwarming to see so many people digging in to bring
      personality to lifeless piles of snow.  Currier and Ives would have been very
      proud.

      There was even a snowshoe race for people of all ages and competitive
      levels.  The winner finished the one-mile course in 6 minutes and 7 seconds.  
      He ran a 6-minute mile IN SNOWSHOES!  I can barely complete a 6-minute
      mile in my car.  

      Amid all this activity was the star attraction — ice carving.  Main Street was
      set up with about 25 carving stations.  Each station was stocked with two
      blocks of high quality, clean, clear, bubble-free ice.  Carvers, both
      professional and amateur, came equipped with their own tools.  Serious ice
      carvers had chain saws and chisels, hot plates and hair dryers, and other
      assorted cutting and heating gadgets in their bags of tricks.   Most wore
      gloves, but the die-hards dropped their gloves and used their bare hands to
      manipulate their material with no regard for the cold, never mind frostbite or
      numbing cold.  Apparently the rush of adrenaline coursing their veins must
      keep them warm.

      When the horn sounded, carving began.  A few hours later, when it sounds
      again, all tools were put down, and carving stopped.  When time was up,
      downtown Keene was decorated with crystal-like creations that sparkled in
      the afternoon sunlight like gigantic diamonds.  It was beautiful.  I’d never
      seen anything like it.  I wouldn’t have believed that carvers could take these
      basic building blocks and turn them into such realistic renditions of such
      things as two bears fishing on a frozen pond, an American eagle, a long-
      haired maiden riding on a flying fish, or a soaring pterodactyl with a 10-foot
      wingspan.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that anyone
      could transform two blocks of ice into such masterpieces.  

      My husband and I watched the prehistoric character come to life.  We
      hovered around the artist’s station and watched in wide-eyed wonder as he
      sliced slabs from the block, melted the edges smooth and connected them to
      the torso.   Pterodactyls may be extinct, but on this day this creature came
      alive with incredible lifelike detail.  From talons to beak, from wing tip to
      wing tip, this big bird was awesome!  

      As I rubbed my mittens together for a little friction-generated heat, I
      marveled at the carvers’ high threshold of tolerance to the cold.  Apparently
      their focus on the craft at hand is so intense that it blocks out anything else
      that might get in the way of concentration.  How else could I explain the
      amount of time each artist spends exacting the details on their creations.  
      Take the two bears ice fishing on a frozen pond, for example, everything
      from their coats to their facials expressions was so realistic that I thought
      they’d come to life right before my eyes…just like Frosty!  I even saw a
      beautiful, anatomically-correct goddess make a few young men blush.  

      Let me go on record as saying that I have the utmost respect for anybody
      who can create art.  Not to diminish the talent required to paint a portrait or
      throw a pot, but when a painter or a potter doesn’t care for the hue of the sky
      of the handle of a mug, they can remix, reshape, and redo with only a little
      trouble.  But for an artist to take a medium as unforgiving as ice and shape it
      into something is truly impressive.  These carvers get three hours, two
      blocks and one chance.  If they incorrectly calculate or slice, drop it, or break
      it, they’re done.  Not much chance for error.  Not many redos in the world of
      competitive ice carving.  So in my mind, ice carving is more than art; it’s a
      sport, a skill, and a brainteaser.  

      It’s not hard to explain why the Ice & Snow Festival
      made me feel warm and fuzzy.  This festival was
      another example of how nice it is to live in the heart
      of the Monadnock Region.  Not only is Keene’s
      Annual Ice & Snow Festival a bright spot in a long,
      old winter, it’s a day that offers something for
      everyone.  The thought and planning that goes in
      to making this event happen is impressive.  
      It would be great to have any one of these
      elements grace the downtown, but the fact
      that all of these activities and attractions are
      packaged together make Keene a real life winter wonderland.

      Imagine if images of each one of these activities were captured on a greeting
      card and boxed as a holiday collection.  What a package it would be – ice
      carving, skating, snow sculpting, roasting marshmallows by the fire,
      snowshoeing…  I’d definitely buy the box and start sending holiday cards
      again because these scenes recapture the meaning of the holiday season and
      make all the cold weather worthwhile.  And to think I live right here in the
      heart of a community that cherishes time-tested traditions and perpetuates
      new ones!

      What’s in the future for Keene’s Annual Ice & Snow Festival?  A toboggan
      run?  Ski jumping?  Curling?  Snowball toss?  I don’t know.  But I do know
      that it’s a great way to beat the winter blues.  So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join
      ‘em!  Find something fun to do this winter.  Learn to skate.  Hit the ski
      slopes.  Go snowshoeing in the woods.  But whatever you do, don’t miss
      Keene’s  Annual Ice & Snow Festival.  It’s the most fun no money can buy!

       

       

     

     

 February 2009 activities  January 19, 2009  Vermont

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