Jim Thorpe Winterfest draws a crowd
Michael Blaine carves an eagle out of wood during a live demonstration at Jim Thorpe’s 27th Annual Winterfest. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
Roy Witten works on the details of his ice sculpture during a live demonstration at Jim Thorpe’s 27th Annual Winterfest. See a video from the festival at tnonline.com. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
Russell and Marie Torrey take a seat on an ice throne at Jim Thorpe’s 27th Annual Winterfest.
Chris and Elaine Shelly pick up their drinks at an ice bar set up at Jim Thorpe’s 27th Annual Winterfest. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
Countless visitors made their way up and down the streets of Jim Thorpe during its 27th Annual Winterfest held Saturday and Sunday.
Bringing with it the promise of train rides, shopping and live carving demonstrations, Winterfest attracts more than 1,000 visitors into the borough and into the stores lining Broadway on Presidents Day weekend.
Russell and Marie Torrey of Villanova found out about Winterfest through the web. It was their first time attending, but seeing as Feb. 15 was Marie’s 57th birthday, the couple decided to make a weekend of it, staying in The Inn at Jim Thorpe.
The first activity they checked off the list? The 70-minute round-trip train ride operated by the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.
“We just came off of the train ride, and that was very informative and exciting to see all the different mountains, and the history of the railroad,” Marie said.
Roy Witten, of Sculpted Ice Works, spent the morning etching images out of melting ice block, entertainin crowds by the dozen outside the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
“I love ice carving, it’s different,” Witten said. “You’ll never find a job like it.”
Witten has been carving for eight years. He started out as a delivery driver for Ice Works. One day, Witten said, his boss needed someone to join an ice demonstration taking place, and despite having almost no experience, Witten did the show.
“My first carving I ever did was in front of about 300 people,” Witten said. “It turned out pretty well actually.”
Saturday, on the other hand, was a little bit more of a feat. The sunshine and warmer-than-ideal temperatures meant Witten’s demonstrations were melting fast. The fin of a swordfish he fashioned fell off right after he completed the sculpture.
But visitors still had a chance to admire the work he completed before Winterfest, namely an ice throne and two functional ice bars.
Michael Blaine of Dream Wood Workshop made his way to Jim Thorpe once again to put on his own wood demonstration. Blaine said he’s been carving for more than 50 years. When asked what he loves about the art form, Blaine said it was the nature of the work itself.
“It’s reductive sculpture,” he said. “You can’t put it back. It’s the hardest art form there is, it’s not like doing clay, it’s not like welding even. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Winterfest was hosted by the Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency. The town’s more than 50 unique shops, like Muggles’ Mug Coffee Shop, were a selling point for a lot of participants.
By mid-afternoon, Monica Astorino and Margie Spokas had already hit up a few stores. But for the two longtime friends, at its heart, Winterfest was a chance to just spend some quality time together.
“I know we originally talked about coming because of the ice carvings and just to have some kind of fun on a Saturday,” Astorino, of Conyngham, said.
“It’s something fun to do in the winter,” said Spokas, of Lake Hauto. “We were saying about all the different shops, we haven’t been here in years, so it’s nice to see some of the new ones open.”