DOWAGIAC — Forestry clubs of Michigan State University and Ohio State University are returning to Dowagiac for Ice Time on Saturday, Feb. 6, as they demonstrate lumbering techniques, dating back to the 1880s.
Now in its 20th year, the winter arts festival of the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce has been profiled as one of the many creative ways communities across the nation celebrate the bone-chilling months of winter.
Event chairman Kris Soenen said forestry students will join the hands-on action downtown, as ice carvers and culinary chefs rev up their electric and power gas tools to transform 12,000 pounds of glistening ice into life size statues. The winter arts event also features wood and timber carving, in-store events and activities for the full family.
“As a nod to the historic significance of Michigan’s lumber industry, 20 college students will engage in a friendly competition, demonstrating techniques that were once used to fell huge trees back in the day,” Soenen said.
“This is the second year for the forestry clubs to be featured at the event. Students had so much fun showing their skills last year and hearing the crowd cheering them on, they wanted to return this year. Ice Time provides an opportunity for them to practice these skills before they compete at Conclave, an intercollegiate competition in April, where forestry clubs compete in many different events, including the bucksaw and axe throwing, and log handling and tossing. You’ll also see them matchstick split the logs, which takes an axe, finesse and good aim.”
Soenen said the earliest lumbering in Michigan was done by the French in order to build forts, fur-trading, posts and missions. The British, and later the Americans, used Michigan’s hardwoods to build merchant and war ships.
Michigan’s pine became important as the supply of trees in the northeast was used. By 1880, Michigan was producing as much lumber as the next three states combined.
Major underwriters of the 2016 winter arts festival are: Lyons Industries, Platinum Level sponsor; Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union, Gold Level sponsor; Dowsett Chiropractic HealthCenter, Silver Level sponsor; along with Chemical Bank and Clark Chapel – Starks Family Funeral Home, bronze Level sponsors.
Another 30 businesses have sponsored the single-block ice carvings that will line Front Street and the timed ice carve-off, beginning at 1 p.m. at Beckwith Park.
For a detailed schedule of events visit the Chamber’s Facebook page or its website, www.dowagiacchamber.com