Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ICE!---The Festival

Harbin, China is the site of one of the four largest ice festivals in the world----BUT, if you can't make it there this winter, you can still get a sample of the artistry of their famous event right here in the U.S. of A! The location is the Gaylord Hotel properties in Grapevine, Texas or Nashville, Tennessee. I will report on the one in Grapevine, Texas, as that is the resort where I was able to view this "happening" in person. The history of ice carving goes back hundreds of years; legend says the ruler of the northern province of China where Harbin is located was trying to figure out something to keep his people motivated and busy during the extremely cold, harsh winters of that area. The ruler came up with the idea of ice carving competitions. The tradition continued and grew with each passing winter, so that ever since 1985, the Harbin Ice Carving Festival has been a major tourism event in China. So it is not surprising with the expansion of a global economy and improved refrigeration/transportation processes, China is exporting their artistry to the U.S.; it takes about five months for the Chinese sculptors to carve their numerous themed pieces, yet the U.S. showings only last for about fifty days! The craftsmen use three kinds of ice: clear, colored with dyes, and white (resembling packed snow), and it must be placed in an area for the public to view it that is maintained at a very frosty 9 degrees F. Your normal windbreaker is not enough to keep you comfortable in 9 degree temperatures, so the price of the ICE! exhibit ticket includes a lovely parka (I am pictured in the gold parka provided, in above photo) The upper right photo above shows the crystal clear ice used for carving the life-sized nativity scene, as well as some of the colored and white ice visible in the life-size penguins in lower photo. So if the stress of the political elections has left you longing for a place to "chill out", then plan a visit to the ICE! exhibit---you won't regret it. Miles of smiles! Tricia Turner
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