CALEDONIA, N.Y. (WROC) — Jeff Bleier has been sculpting ice for 30 years. He has competed in national and international competitions, but he’s turning to a smaller scale. The festival — which takes place at the Caledonia Village Inn in Caledonia at 1pm — started in 2013.
He’s worked in food and hospitality for years, so he combined that love with his love of ice sculpting. He and his wife Lisa took over the Caledonia Village Inn in 2009, and started the Fire and Ice festival in 2013.
This year, the theme will be Western, he’s got a huge design for a mounted cowboy rounding up a bull.
Every year, Bleier carves out designs and sculptures from 300-pound blocks of ice; ice that is specially frozen to be pure and dense. That process makes the ice nicer to look at, and melt more slowly.
The time it takes to carve a sculpture varies greatly — he will regale you with stories of international competitions that can take days to make — but said that new tools allow faster and more precise cuts.
The “main event” is a chimney made of ice, that will sit in front of the inn. After a fire inside it is lit, the town can watch it melt away.
Bleier said he does this for the love of Caledonia, and the community.
“When we first started, we weren’t too sure how they were going to react, at first it was a smaller crowd, but over the years, this is just the best day of the year for them, they’re just really looking forward to it,” Bleier said. “Just meeting people and the customers, and the smiling faces, we’ve found a nice community to be a part of.”