Fall brings harvest celebrations with apple cider, pumpkin picking, hayrides and candy apples. Even March and April have their Friday fish fries at churches and fire halls. But a good winter celebration is hard to find.
It is possible, though, to interrupt your hibernation and celebrate winter in a unique way at the 12th annual Fire & Ice Festival in Somerset.
This event, Jan. 12 – 14, truly embraces winter. More than 60 ice sculptures in a 12-block area range from the scales of justice in front of an attorney’s office to an icy tooth near the dentist’s to an intricate American eagle with an eight-foot wingspan. There are also ice-carving demonstrations, and street corners have roaring fires to warm the crowds.
On Saturday, you can start the day with the Kiwanis’ all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. Stop by the First Christian Church for their famous soup sale — but get there early for the best selection. There’s a chili cook-off at the American Legion and a “King of the Hill” race with remote control vehicles in the borough parking lot.
It may be too cold for the bathing suit contest of a traditional beauty pageant, but you can cast your vote for the 2007 Snow Baby and Snow Toddler. Add in scavenger hunts, a 5K walk/run, performances by a variety of bands, a silent auction, bake sales, teen and children’s activities, shopping and fireworks.
Open all year, but offering extended hours during the Fire & Ice Festival, is the Laurel Highlands Model Railroad Club’s train display.
Located in the basement of the Newberry Place Building, this train show is coordinated by a group of about 30 model train enthusiasts who range in age from 4 to 80, who have put together a variety of elaborate displays from different eras, including, of course, the classic Plasticville, USA.
A winter visit to Somerset has more than enough to fill a day or weekend with the family or a date. It’s definitely worth the drive.