Traditional Festival of Ice makes its triumphant return

The holidays are a time for embracing tradition. No matter what that means for your family and friends, a visit to the annual Festival of Ice is hopefully part of that holiday tradition in the Juniata River Valley.

The Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau is excited for this year’s lineup of returning and new activities, plus the ice sculpture gallery will be lining the sidewalks around Monument Square on Dec. 2-3. Thanks to great community support, there will be 45 one-block ice sculptures and five large ice sculptures. The large ice sculptures will be carved live by DiMartino Ice Thursday night.

This year’s theme, “Santa Paws and Claws,” is going to be fun as you will see the theme reflected in the ice designs, the decorations inside the Historic Courthouse and outside in the sidewalk chalk art. Plus, we will have many live animals including dogs, ponies, a miniature Highlander, alpacas, and more for visitors to meet.

Painting Parties by Judy is offering painting classes each night in the courtroom and each project includes a paw print to convey the theme. Visit her Facebook page or website to see the projects and sign up to participate.

Since there will not be live music in the courtroom this year, we decided to utilize the space in another way this year. We have reached out to the community to share their quilts with us for a unique and colorful display. Other displays to check out around the square are the Mifflin County Model Railroad Club display, and the Christmas Courtyard behind the courthouse.

The Candy Cane Count Scavenger Hunt is back this year after last year’s successful contest at last year’s Holiday Stroll. Candy canes will be hidden in the windows of the downtown businesses for people of all ages to find. Entry forms will be available on the front porch of the Historic Courthouse. Take the form with you to help keep a tally of all the candy canes found, then return the form to the mailbox on the front porch to be entered to win a prize. The hunt will run from Dec. 2-12.

The Juniata Valley Gingerbread House Competition will have all the entries on display for voting in the windows of KC’s Gifts, Jewelry and Awards and the former Glick’s Shoe Fly. To enter the contest, visit the Facebook page to learn how. Prizes will be awarded in several categories.

Live music and special performances by local dancing groups will be held both nights either on the courthouse steps or on Main Street beside the courthouse. You’ll also find live music inside the Gift Emporium and at the bus shelter.

Don’t forget to bring along some cash for some Christmas shopping. The Gift Emporium inside the former Glick’s store is full of unique items and tasty treats, plus stop at the Juniata Valley Bank Holiday Market to visit our food vendors.

The festival kicks off promptly at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2 with the Crazy Parade. Take a wagon ride, visit the live nativity, and of course, get your photo taken with Santa while you’re here.


Buffie Boyer is a marketing assistant with the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau.


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