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Ice Wars, Ice Bar draw winter revelers downtown

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Ice Wars, Ice Bar draw winter revelers downtown
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The sound of chainsaws is echoing through the downtown Ithaca Commons this weekend as renowned carvers compete in the annual Ice Wars. But as Tamara Lindstrom tells us, this year's winter festival is a whole new scene.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- A chef by trade, Michigan native Gerald Ford's true passion begins with a frozen block of ice.

"Tonight I'm looking to do a Christmas tree, maybe a demon head," Ford said. "We get twenty minutes for speed carving. And tomorrow I'm going to do a dolphin and a Capricorn that I'm planning to carve."

Ford is one of a dozen carvers facing off at Ithaca's Ice Wars, a nationally sanctioned event taking over the Commons this weekend.

It's part of the annual Winter Festival put on by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. But this year, visitors have a new way to revel in the cold.

"We're really excited to have the Ice Bar and Lounge," said DIA Associate Director Vicki Taylor. "We have a fireplace made out of ice and the stools and everything. We'll be operating that throughout the day, so people can do wine tasting, get hot cocoa and enjoy it."

The festivities continue Saturday with more carving and a chowder cook-off.

And with frosty weather on the radar, it looks like those ice sculptures might just stick around for a change.

"For the past few years we may have had this curse where whenever we wanted it to be cold, it was warm," Taylor said. "So we're excited this year it's going to be a winter wonderland. We're going to have a lot of sculptures for people to see, about 50 in total."

"It just makes us look forward to the cold weather," Ford said. "It gives us a chance to really put forward a better technique and really sculpt a little bit more."

Adding a little winter wonder to the snowy scene.

The carving continues Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the chowder cook-off from noon to five. Tickets are ten dollars for ten tastings. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP