Ice Carving Exhibition

Meghan Bogardus

Headline: Together with ice

Deck: 8th Annual Ice Carving Exhibition aims to bring community, small businesses downtown

By Meghan Bogardus

More than just snow flurries will bring chill to Kent on Saturday. For the 8th year in a row, downtown will host “Make Mine With Ice,” an ice-carving exhibition featuring carvers from Kent State and Akron University.

The exhibition is a part of D.I.C.E., Downtown Innovative Community Events, a creation of Standing Rock Cultural Arts and local businesses that aimed to revitalize Kent long before downtown development.

“Kent wasn’t the booming town it is today,” said Jeff Ingram, the executive director of Standing Rock.

Ingram and Karen Barrett, the owner of City Bank Antiques, developed D.I.C.E. in 2004 when it seemed to Kent citizens that there was “nothing” downtown.

“There was a period where there was an absence of everyone coming together,” Barrett said.

The first event was an ice cream social, which Barrett said had over 500 people in attendance. Eventually, Barrett said Standing Rock was able to get support from the city and local businesses to establish about six free yearly events, including the ice-carving exhibition always held in February.

Ingram said the inspiration for the event came from a similar one in Medina. He said Barrett approached John Goehler, an ice carver and senior associate director with dining services.

Initially the event was a judged competition between ice carving clubs at Kent State and Akron, but over the years it has become a showcase of a few carvers.

Goehler said the ice-carving club at Kent State currently doesn’t have any members, so the exhibition will feature him and a few other area carvers. He said the club is always looking for students interested in carving and he does some carving workshops for hospitality management students.

The exhibition is something Goehler said he always enjoys doing for the carving practice and for its goal of bringing the community together.

“We need to have a strong relationship between the university and downtown and this helps to forge that and keep it going,” he said.

Ingram said a wide variety of local businesses support the Standing Rock events, including doctor’s offices and restaurants.

Refreshments at the exhibition Saturday will be served by Anthony’s Café and Stahl’s Bakery.

Cary James, the owner of Stahl’s, said she enjoys working with events like this because it is good advertising for the bakery, which is a little further away from the main businesses downtown and somewhat “hidden.” James said she enjoys the much needed interaction with Kent residents.

“If you’re a small business, everything is personal,” she said.

In recent years, Barrett said the community events have not been as well attended as they could be, but said she is hopeful the development downtown will continue increase business and strengthen community.

“If you are getting more people that didn’t used to come downtown that is always a good thing,” she said.

Both Ingram and Barrett agreed that the D.I.C.E. program is important for the community because it provides family-oriented arts activities and also adds an element of culture to the redeveloping city.

“Places that have art activities are quick to find employees,” Ingram said.

“It’s not just what the business is and how much you make, it’s how Kent is a nice place to raise a family.”

“Make Mine With Ice” is free to the public and will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 in the Home Savings Plaza at the corner of Water and Main St.