Downtown fest ‘cool for the kids’

January 27, 2019

Ice cream isn’t usually thought of as a wintertime treat. But when the ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, perhaps an exception can be made.

About 20 children with their parents and grandparents gathered at Science Central on Saturday morning for a taste of the novel way to make ice cream at Winterval, Fort Wayne’s annual January festival celebrating all things cold.

Selassie Ijelu, education specialist, told the group the liquid she was about to pour into a container of milk, sugar and peppermint flavoring was a lot colder than it would ever get in Fort Wayne.

“Nitrogen is liquid at minus 323 degrees,” she said, before donning heavy gloves and goggles to lift a metal container to pour out some of the substance, which bubbled and steamed as child volunteers helped stir the nitrogen into a cold confection.

One of the helpers was Emersyn Clapper-Erpelding, 3, who attended with her sister Jacqueline, 2, mom, Jacqueline, and grandpa, Curt Clapper. The Fort Wayne family came out despite temperatures hovering in the mid-teens.

The girls were going stir-crazy from being in the house, said mom Jacqueline. “As you can see, they are quite energetic,” she said, as Quinn took a tiny tumble rushing to get to taste the ice cream. 

This year, Winterval lived up to its name. The previous two festivals took place in warmer temperatures.

The cold meant ice carver Ryan Frauhauger of Bluffton wasn’t impeded by the weather as he turned a block of ice into Snoopy, the famous beagle from the “Peanuts” comic strip.

A flock of at least 30 children gathered around him as his chain saw whirred in front of the Community Center on Main Street.

On the other side of the entrance, Stan Horne of Churubusco, a member of Michiana Ice Carvers, put a blowtorch to a piece of metal to melt the top layer of ice so a sign could be affixed to an 8-foot-long ice tunnel.

Elise Powers, 12, of Fort Wayne, attending with her dad, Brian Powers, had a new experience Saturday. She had never seen ice carving before, she said.

Asked what it takes to do the sculpting, she replied, “Patience. A lot of concentration.”

Her family includes siblings Oliver, 9; Levi, 11; and Josephine, 14.

Other activities included a 9 a.m. winter hike through Lindenwood Nature Preserve, which ended with a campfire, the Snow Bowl rugby match at Lawton Park, Winter Carnival with crafts and activities at the Community Center and a glimpse of a 1750s winter at the Historic Old Fort.

All those events were free, but some, including events at Science Central, had nominal admission charges.

Some attendees also searched for ice-carved penguins at 10 locations around town for a scavenger hunt with a $100 prize.

Kip Ravenscroft said he drove with his wife, Lori, from Elkhart to see his son Chris and daughter-in-law Michelle and grandchildren Emma, 4, and Ethan, 15 months.

With Ethan on his shoulders, he said he’d never been to Winterval but was enjoying himself.

“It’s pretty cool for the kids,” he said.


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