Fire & Ice Festival going ‘Out of This World’

The 2020 Fire & Ice Festival is not only four times the size of its predecessors, it’s “Out of This World.”

That’s the theme for the festival, now in its third year, and it sets the tone for three days that not only include amazing ice displays, but also fun and educational activities related to space and the solar system.

According to Lauren Weaver, director of the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the three-day event, it is bringing unprecedented attention to the Quiet Resorts in what is traditionally the quietest of times.

Weaver said hotels from Rehoboth to Fenwick are filling up with visitors who want to see what the Fire & Ice Festival is all about, local businesses are gearing up for a busy weekend, and local residents are looking forward to a fun event to break up the normally slow time of year.

The Fire & Ice event actually kicked off on Sunday, Jan. 19, with a contest designed to spotlight some of the most dedicated and beloved employees in the resort towns — the bartenders.

Bringing home the “Ice Trophy” was Good Earth Market’s Anthony Taylor, with his “Baby Yoda” concoction. Straight out of the “Star Wars” show “The Mandalorian,” it is.

With its green color, lime-slice ears and cucumber-slice eyes, the Baby Yoda is now the official drink of the 2020 “Out of This World” Fire & Ice Festival, and Taylor is $1,000 richer. Better yet, anyone who didn’t get a chance on Sunday to try out the Baby Yoda and other contenders still has a chance to try them.

There will be a Drink Tasting Tour during the Fire & Ice Festival weekend, Jan. 24 to 26. Patrons can purchase a tasting card, which will be honored throughout the Fire & Ice Festival, allowing visitors to enjoy a taste of the Fire & Ice drink created by each participating restaurant while viewing ice features.

Online ticket sales for the Drink Tasting Tour were available until Jan. 22; onsite ticket sales will be available during the Fire & Ice Festival at the Information Tent in Bethany Beach. Each ticket costs $20, with proceeds benefiting the Nemours duPont Pediatrics & SeniorCare, Sussex Campus, in Milford.

Weaver said the Nemours facility deserves the support that the event will provide.

“So many families have had to drive up to Wilmington” for specialized pediatric care, she said, and the Milford facility brings much of that same level of care to Sussex County for the first time.

The expanded Fire & Ice Festival is all part of the plan the Chamber and developer Jack Burbage developed to bring visitors and locals together to celebrate what the resort can offer during the winter months.

“The third-year plan was expansion down Route 26,” Weaver said.

The festival is “a different caliber” this year, she said, with three days filled with all kinds of activities. A total of 60 businesses are involved through sponsorships and hosting activities. There will be far more ice sculptures than ever before, expanding the festival into Ocean View and Millville for the first time.

The activities begin on Friday, Jan. 24, with “signature ice features” opening at all three locations: the Bethany Beach boardwalk, Lord’s Landscaping in Millville and at Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View.

The signature pieces will each add a new dimension to the festival. The Millville piece, for example, will be a 25-foot ice slide, Weaver said.

Those features will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

Friday’s activities also include NASA’s Wallops Island Moon to Mars program, presented at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Hotel from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Later in the day, the new Millville Boardwalk’s heated pavilion will be the site for showings of two family-oriented space movies, “Space Jam” at 4:30 p.m. and “Space Buddies” at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the movie events cost $5 per person and are limited to 35 per showing. In addition, $1 ice cream cones will be available at Agape Creamery at the Millville Boardwalk. Moviegoers should bring their own chairs and blankets.

Also on Friday, from 4 to 8 p.m., will be the popular “sculpture reveal,” with a walking tour of lighted sculptures in Bethany Beach.

Bonfires, Friday and Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m., will offer s’mores and welcome warmth. For locations, check the Fire & Ice official website, at www.fireandicede.com.

Keeping with this year’s theme, stargazing with award-winning astronomer Kevin Manning will be held on the golf course at Bear Trap Dunes from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, the “main event” on the Bethany Beach boardwalk, as in previous years, will be the live ice-sculpting demonstration on the bandstand. The demonstration by Ice Labs, the ice professionals for the festival, involves the carving of a 3,000-pound block of ice and begins at 5:30 p.m.

The three signature ice pieces will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., while astronomer Kevin Manning brings another program, “Astronomy for Everyone: Size & Scale of the Universe,” to Bethany Beach Ocean Suites from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Go to www.fireandicede.com to register for that event, to be held at The Den at Bear Trap Dunes.

Manning will again offer a stargazing program on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m., this time on the beach.

Juggler Cascading Carlos will entertain on the boardwalk in Bethany Beach from noon to 4 p.m. During the same time, Lord’s Landscaping in Millville will be hosting a “block party” where old friends and neighbors can meet up, catch up and enjoy some ice sculpture fun, and newcomers can see what Millville has to offer.

Also on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites lobby, NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility will present a display about efforts to replenish the International Space Station.

From 4 to 8 p.m., the walking tour of lighted sculptures continues in Bethany Beach.

On Sunday, there’s one more chance to see the signature ice sculptures at all three locations, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is also one more day, on Sunday, to sample the winners of the drink competition at sponsoring restaurants.

And then, the event comes to a close — with a smash. The Ice Lab team will ceremonially smash all the artworks they’ve constructed — times and locations to be determined. For updates, go to www.fireandice.com.

While Weaver said the process of evolving the Fire & Ice Festival has been “planned chaos,” she said all the effort has been worthwhile. It has all been about increasing awareness of what the area has to offer, and the collaboration of local businesses and towns.

“That’s our job,” she said. “That’s our mission, as the Chamber.”

“We’re really grateful for how the businesses and the community have embraced it,” Weaver said. 

For more information and a complete listing of all activities for the three-day festival, go to www.fireandicede.com.

 

By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter