The NICA collegiate invitational in Holland takes place Friday and Saturday. A total of six teams from the Midwest will compete in the two-day event — carving glistening works of art out of 300-pound blocks of ice with chain saws, chisels, power drills, hot irons and more.
Henry Ford Community College from Dearborn will be competing in the collegiate invitational for the first time ever. They will join returning champions Grand Rapids Community College, Columbus Culinary Institute at Bradford School (Columbus, Ohio), Oakland Community College (Bloomfield Hills), University of Akron (Ohio) and University of Michigan.
The collegiate invitational begins Friday with a buffet-style compulsory competition from 6-8 p.m. All carving will take place on Eighth Street, between College and River avenues. Students will carve sculptures designed to be displayed on restaurant buffets, wedding receptions and other special events.
Once completed, the competitors will be challenged to move their sculptures, each easily weighing more than 100 pounds, to display areas throughout Eighth Street. The sculptures will be on display throughout the remainder of the weekend, weather permitting.
The competition continues Saturday with an ice-sculpting demonstration and seminar by NICA-certified master carver Greg Butauski from 10-11 a.m. Butauski is the owner of Rock On Ice in Columbus, Ohio — where he offers ice-sculpting services including buffet sculptures, interactive ice displays and performance ice carving. During Butauski’s seminar, “Tips and Tricks for Competitive Carving,” both the students and the public can learn what skills it takes to be an award-winning carver. The demonstration will take place in GDK Park, next to Cold Stone Creamery.
The highlight of the invitational is the freestyle competition from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday. During this event, the students will have four hours to transform a giant block of ice into a frozen masterpiece. Once completed, each sculpture will be judged according to official NICA standards by a panel of officials and certified coaches, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The winners will receive ribbons and will qualify for the National Collegiate Ice Carving Championship to be held later this month in Frankenmuth.
A private awards dinner will be held Saturday evening.
In addition to the competition, several downtown Holland businesses have decided to get in on the frozen fun by sponsoring an ice sculpture for outside their door.