LAKE JAMES — A successful ice festival is making its return to the area in January to raise money to support Lake James State Park.
The inaugural event, held Jan. 15, 2022, drew 250 visitors and raised more than $6,000 for the Friends of Lake James, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the park. Nora Coffey, Lake James State Park superintendent, said the money raised this year will go toward future trout projects in the park.
“It’s their event, we’re just hosting it at the park,” Coffey said. “They are a 501©(3) nonprofit and they raise money to help the park purchase things we can’t get with the park budget.”
Coffey said this year’s event will be bigger than last year’s. She said sculptor Aaron Costic and his team from Elegant Ice Creations Inc. will make a return, holding three ice sculpting demonstrations in addition to providing pieces for the festival.
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“Last year we only had, I think, 34 sculptures; this year we’ll have at least 40,” she said. “We’ll have some cool bigger sculptures. We’ll have some photo ops and a large ice throne.”
Coffey also said Costic will be bringing his popular “fire and ice” display to the event. He recently showed this display at the Winter Carnival in downtown Morganton on Nov. 19. Coffey said the lighting of the fire and ice tower will be at 8 p.m. and will be the culmination of the evening’s activities.
This year, Coffey also said the event’s attendance will be capped at approximately double last year’s capacity.
“Last year we only had 250 tickets available,” she said. “This year we will probably be able to more than double that.”
In addition to ice sculptures and demonstrations, Coffey said tickets will include finger foods, non-alcoholic beverages and one alcoholic beverage. She said The Friends of Lake James is still working to bring in local vendors to provide the food, beer and wine but no definite announcements have yet been made.
Coffey said the event also will feature a raffle again this year. Raffle tickets are $10 and the prize is $1,000 “cold hard cash.”
Coffey there also are still opportunities available to sponsor a sculpture. Sponsorship packages start at $400 and go up based on the size of the sculpture.
“We still have about a dozen sculptures available looking for sponsors,” she said. “We have multiple sponsorship levels available from one-block sculptures up to seven-block sculptures.”
The second annual Lake James Ice Festival will take place on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 5-9 p.m. at Lake James State Park — Paddy’s Creek. Tickets for the event are $50 plus fees and sales tax and are available through Eventbrite at www.shorturl.at/mOWY1. Raffle tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite or The Friends of Lake James State Park. For more information, contact The Friends of Lake James State Park at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-584-7728.
Jason Koon is a staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com.