A bitter cold rivalry

Ben Plassard

Weekend ice-carving competition pits Kent State versus Akron

Chase Watson, junior hospitality management major, pauses for a moment to inspect his work. The Kent State Ice Sculpture Team was practicing for the Kent Bicentennial Ice Sculpture competition this weekend against Akron. JAMESON CAMPBELL | DAILY KENT ST

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Crosstown rivals Kent State and Akron will square off this weekend, but it will not be on the basketball court or the football field.

The two schools will face-off Saturday in downtown Kent in the “Make Mine With Bicentennial Ice, Please” ice-carving competition.

This marks the first time the two schools’ ice-carving teams have met head-to-head, despite their close geography and bitter rivalry.

The competition is one of the many programs sponsored by Downtown Innovative Community Events.

Downtown Innovative Community Events is an initiative created for the purpose of re-energizing downtown Kent by building a stronger community through the arts.

“Art is a great way to build community,” said Jeff Ingram, director of Standing Rock Cultural Arts and strong supporter of arts in the Kent community. “Having downtown events allows us to achieve this mission of revitalizing downtown Kent through art.”

Karen Barrett, owner of downtown’s City Bank Antiques and a member of the initiative, said the ice-carving event is a way to get people community oriented and to show people that downtown Kent is a viable place in the community.

“We started these programs because the daytime economy is slow,” Barrett said. “We want people to realize that downtown Kent is a great place to shop and have fun and to get people community-mindful.”

The competition begins at 1 p.m. with introductions. The actual carving will begin around 1:15 p.m.

Each school has three carvers who will have until 3 p.m. to finish their sculptures. At that time, three judges will evaluate each piece.

A winning school will be chosen, as well as three individual winners. The criteria for judging the sculptures will be artistic creativity, technical skill and incorporation of the bicentennial theme.

“Their focus is the historic nature of the city of Kent,” said Ron Perkins, coach for the Kent State team. “It is their interpretation of what that means.”

The winning school will receive a Stihl chainsaw, courtesy of Leppo Equipment, and the top three individual carvers will receive gift certificates and other prizes.

Carving for Kent State will be Maggie Raffel, Chase Watson and Katie Cush.

Coach Perkins said his team is very strong and Raffel is one of the strongest female carvers in the state.

“This will be a good challenge for both schools,” Perkins said. “Akron competes more and has good carvers so it will be a good show.”

The University of Akron’s team consists of Anthony Scolaro, Rose Dressler and Beatriz Alford. Akron’s ice-carving team has a rich history, as they have previously won the Collegiate National Championships three years in a row. Despite their record of success, Akron coach Richard Alford said he just wants to have fun and entertain the crowd.

“We are just going to carve ice,” Alford said. “We want to entertain the people and whatever happens, happens.”

Each carver will work with a 300-pound block of ice, using a vast array of tools such as chainsaws, sanders, knives and blowtorches.

Ideal conditions for ice carving, according to both coaches, would be 10 to 20 degree temperatures with no wind, no sun and no snow. According to the National Weather Service, the forecast for Saturday calls for possible snow showers with temperatures in the high 20s. This, Perkins says, can limit what the carvers can do.

Whatever the weather, all participants agree that the main goal is to bring people downtown and put on a good show.

“We want people to see things they have not seen before,” Perkins said. “We want them to go downtown and realize there are things to do.”

Of course, no competition between Akron and Kent State could be complete without a little trash talk.

“I don’t think we are going to have to ‘fear the roo’ this weekend,” Perkins said.

The “Make Mine with Bicentennial Ice, Please” competition takes place this Saturday at Home Savings Plaza in downtown Kent from 1 to 4 p.m. The event is free and all downtown businesses will be open for shopping and dining.

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Ben Plassard at [email protected].