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Ice artists create more than 70 sculptures for Ligonier Ice Fest, continues Sunday | TribLIVE.com
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Ice artists create more than 70 sculptures for Ligonier Ice Fest, continues Sunday

Ernie DiMartino’s ice carvers have been working behind the scenes for weeks.

And they’re not done yet — nine workers are transforming blocks of ice into beautiful sculptures at Ligonier’s Diamond Park.

“There’s a lot going on, the weather’s perfect,” said Cindy Purnell chairwoman of the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest, which continues Sunday.

The cold temperatures mean there’s a lot of life left for the 60 smaller sculptures around the park and along borough streets and 11 larger designs in the park.

Carvers from DiMartino’s Ice in Jeannette stood in front of huge ice blocks with tools Saturday, some cutting off chunks that slammed to the ground and others carefully shaving the creation into shape.

Eventually, a form emerged — a crystal throne, a giraffe, a Native American with an eagle.

Carvers started working on the smaller sculptures in November, DiMartino said. He and Purnell work closely leading up to the event.

“Her and I go over a list of sculptures that we think are different than what we’ve done in, let’s say, the last five years,” DiMartino said.

“I want to make sure that we don’t repeat what we did last year,” Purnell said. “We get a lot of the same people … and they come up with new designs all the time.”

Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce officials said they try to schedule at least one event each month to attract visitors to the borough.

“Ligonier is a destination town,” said executive director Scott Haines. “We have a brand new Diamond Park that’s re-done, and we feel it’s important to let people know what Ligonier’s all about.”

Events like Ice Fest and the promotion surrounding them has been beneficial for local merchants like G Squared owner Harvey Childs.

“They definitely bring people to town, and they’re very good at coming up with new ideas for some of the existing events, like the ‘Ice Fest After Dark,’” Childs said, mentioning the new Saturday night attraction. “The chamber is doing a really good job organizing events pretty much every month of the year, even during busy months.”

Renatta Signorini and Patrick Varine are Tribune-Review staff writers. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter at @ByRenatta. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.


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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
DiMartino employee and ice sculptor Rob Higareda gets a blast of ice shavings as he carves out an ice sculpture for crowds Saturday, Jan. 27, 2019 during the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest in the Diamond in Ligonier. Higareda said he has been carving ice for 30 years.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
DiMartino employee Joe DiMartino of Jeannette uses a chainsaw to carve out the base of a giraffe sculpture Saturday, Jan. 27, 2019 during the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest in the Diamond in Ligonier. DiMartino is the nephew of DiMartino Ice owner, Ernie DiMartino, and has been carving sculptures for his uncle for ten years.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
DiMartino Ice employee David DeFloria cleans off the top hat part of an ice sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln while preparing sculptures Saturday, Jan. 27, 2019 during the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest in the Diamond in Ligonier.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
DiMartino employee and ice sculptor Rob Higareda gets a blast of ice shavings as he carves out an ice sculpture for crowds Saturday, Jan. 27, 2019 during the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest in the Diamond in Ligonier. Higareda said he has been carving ice for 30 years.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
DiMartino employee Jared McAlister of Jeannette works on a falcon sculpture Saturday, Jan. 27, 2019 during the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest in the Diamond in Ligonier. DiMartino Ice provided 51 ice sculptures for the event this year.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Jess Brallier (center) shows an ice sculpture to his daughter, Anouk Brallier, 4, (right), while visiting with his wife, Heidi Bertels, and younger daughter, Frances, 1, (left) on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 at the 28th annual Ligonier Ice Fest in Ligonier. DiMartino Ice of Jeannette provided 51 frozen sculptures for the festival this year, while doing live carvings for visitors throughout the weekend. Events kick off at noon on Sunday and will feature an ice carving competition at 2 p.m. on Ligonier’s Diamond in downtown.