Unseasonably warm temperatures predicted for the weekend will not put a damper on the 10th
Annual Fire & Ice Festival
in downtown Rochester, happening Friday through Sunday.
A wintertime event that makes heavy use of winter themes, with a variety of snow- and ice-related presentations and activities, the Fire & Ice Festival typically sees appropriately arctic temperatures. But despite temps predicted to be in the 50s – no friend to snow or ice – the show will go on.
“‘The show must go on,’ as they say in show biz,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “Families from all over Michigan will still be able to experience many outdoor activities and the nice weather at the Fire & Ice Festival.”
Oakland County Parks & Recreation, along with Downtown Rochester and the city, have been challenged to be especially creative, eliminating a few weather-dependent activities such as ice skating, cross-country skiing and the tube sledding hill. In their place, a host of activities that don’t depend on weather – including a zip line (Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.), a 25-foot climbing tower (Friday 5-7 p.m.) – are added attractions.
All activities are free, courtesy of presenting sponsor Oakland County Credit Union and supporting sponsors HOUR Detroit, Soave Enterprises, Rochester Mills Beer Co., the Royal Park Hotel, Shelton Buick GMC and McDonald’s.
Other attractions include:
- a 5-in-1 sports inflatable that features soccer, basketball, baseball, football, and Frisbee
- Go Cache which teaches the basics of geocaching
- Retro Games which will include many field day favorites like sack races, tug-o-war ropes, kickball, parachute games
- Go Golf to practice golf swings at an inflatable target
- Go Fish Backyard Bass Clinics using poles rigged with plugs and plastic fish to teach the basics and safety of fishing
Fireworks are set for Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m.; the Big, Bright Light Show illuminates Main Street; ice sculptures; the TasteFest & Beer tent; spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast fundraisers for the Rochester Area Youth Assistance are set for the Rochester Fire Department; food trucks; live music from Jennifer Kincer & Friends; face painting; pet adoption through the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center; and plenty of unique shopping in beautiful downtown Rochester.
Returning for its second year is college ice carving contest on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. A dozen students from a number of culinary arts programs in Southeast Michigan will carve beautiful sculptures out of blocks of ice in front of festival crowds with the hopes of grabbing top honors. The contest will enable some of the student ice sculptors to practice for the upcoming National Ice Carving Association (NICA) US Collegiate Championships and Pro/Master Revisited Competition in Frankenmuth the last weekend of January. The winner of the ice carving contest will be announced on Saturday evening.
Even the dogsled rides are still on but will now be held in the Farmers’ Market parking lot instead, and will use wheels instead of snow.
For runners participating in the fourth annual Brooksie Way Chill at the Mills 5k race
Sunday at 9:30 a.m., news of the more hospitable temps is likely very welcome. Already organizers are expecting a record of 1,000 participants in the morning, which could continue to climb as more people find themselves willing to poke their heads outdoors. Registration is open through race day.
New this year, visitors can purchase their own Fire & Ice Festival T-shirt featuring one of the festival’s mascot penguins. All events are family-friendly and remain free for all.
“The Fire & Ice Festival is one of Michigan’s premier winter family events and draws tens of thousands of individuals to downtown Rochester,” Patterson said. “The best part, admission and events are free. Who needs snow?”