The popularity of last year’s Ice Art Fest in downtown Carlisle caught some by surprise.

“We had more people than we thought we were going to have,” said Robin Dingle, owner of 2nd Time Around and chair of the Ice Arts Fest committee.

She said some businesses ran short on supplies due to the large crowd, prompting them to work hard overnight to replenish their stock. The crowds also spawned a residual effect as Dingle reported businesses had visitors coming back throughout the year who mentioned having first seen the business at the festival.

This year, more brochures have been printed, more businesses are participating and more people are expected when the Ice Arts Fest returns to downtown Carlisle Feb. 9-11.

The festival opens at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, with a ribbon cutting at 2nd Time Around. The festival continues until 9 p.m. that evening and continues from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“We expect to have the same or a larger crowd, pending the weather. Of course, we can’t control the weather, but I’ve tried to control everything else I could possibly control,” Dingle said.

The main attraction again will be the ice sculptures by Ice Concepts of Hatfield, Pennsylvania. The number of sculptures jumped from 47 last year to 74 this year, with each one being sponsored by businesses both inside and outside of the downtown commercial district.

Last year, most of the businesses sponsored sculptures that represented their business. That’s happening again this year, to some extent. For example, Fay’s Country Kitchen, known for its Coca-Cola decorations, features a Coke bottle outside its doors. Likewise, a hot dog made of ice will grace the sidewalk in front of the Hamilton Restaurant.

But this year, there are also businesses that are sponsoring more interactive sculptures to encourage people to stop to take photos, Dingle said. That gives people the opportunity to have their photos taken with ice versions of Darth Vader, Mickey Mouse or a Smurf, among others.

Two sculptures will be created live on Saturday at the corner of Dickinson Avenue and North Hanover Street before being moved to their locations for the duration of the festival.

The ice throne will again be set up at the Square, and Comfort Suites will again host the ice bar at its patio on South Hanover Street. Wagon rides and glass blowing workshops and demonstrations will also return for the festival.

The Diamond Dig at Marjorie’s Gems will again be held with a pair of vintage 14-carat white gold diamond earrings available for discovery for those willing to brave a bucket of icy water for the chance.

The chili cook-off is also returning, and a beer tasting featuring five Carlisle breweries along with Belgian beers from Cafe Bruges has been added to the event.

One of last year’s most popular features is returning with a slight change. The appearance of the “Snow Sisters” at the Carlisle Vault resulted in lines that stretched around the corner at the Square. This year, children can enjoy cookies and cocoa on Saturday or a chocolate buffet on Sunday.

“This year, you can purchase the ticket and have a set time so you don’t have to wait in line,” Dingle said.

New events include a digital scavenger hunt in which participants answer questions about downtown businesses for the chance to win gift cards to the businesses.

Performances for the weekend kick-off include HoOt, Carlisle’s traveling comedy club, holding three shows on Friday evening at the Carlisle Vault. The first show at 7 p.m. is family friendly, but the remaining two shows at 8:30 and 10 p.m. are for adults only.

Performances continue on Saturday with Carlisle’s dance troupe, REACH, performing at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Keating Jazz Orchestra will perform music from the 1930s and 1940s at the American Legion at 8 p.m.

All performances require a ticket. Tickets are available online at iceartfest.com in advance or at the individual venue and at the red house on the Square during the event. The other house at the Square, the blue Alpine House, will have refreshments for sale.

Free movies will be shown at the Carlisle Theatre Sunday. “Frozen” will be shown at 11 a.m. and “Edward Scissorhands” will be shown at 3 p.m.

Throughout the event, Create-a-Palooza will be holding a penguin toss in its back parking lot. For $1 a throw, participants can toss fake penguins onto inflatable ice cubes to win prizes.

“All of the proceeds of that go back to the Downtown Carlisle Association to help support our events that we put on year round,” Dingle said.

Volunteers are needed to assist with the event. Duties include anything from helping people on and off the ice throne to taking tickets at a performance venue. Dingle said volunteers may sign up online where there are descriptions of all of the volunteer positions. Most volunteer shifts are two or three hours long.

“We can’t put on all these great events without help from the community,” Dingle said.

Email Tammie at tgitt@cumberlink.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.

Outbrain