January 19, 2011

Frost Fest organizers: Let it Snow!


Pam Lacombe-Connell will give sled dog demonstrations at Hoodkroft Golf Course. PHOTO/Tim Shellmer
Union Leader Correspondent
They can’t promise another SpongeBob on Ice,
but Derek Hickey and David Soha, the IceBreakers,
 will bring their ice-sculpting skills to this year’s Frost Fest.
DERRY -- Among those on the short list of people particularly pumped about the fresh layer of snow that just blanketed the town: organizers of Frost Festival 2011.
That’s because last year’s Frost Fest was mostly a bust for lack of snow.
Parks and Recreation Director Eric Bodenrader is cautiously optimistic that nature’s frozen bounty will stick around until the weekend of Feb. 11, enhancing the long list of fun things he’s scheduled to do.
“It looks like we’ll have snow, if it keeps up at this rate,” said Bodenrader yesterday.
 The annual celebration is a literal free-for-all event, a pure, unadulterated town-wide party just because it’s winter. And, in case you were wondering, the “Frost” in Frost Festival has everything to do with the way water vapor crystalizes in sub-freezing temperatures and nothing to do with the lyrical rhymes of Derry’s favorite dead poet, Robert Frost. 

“I think it’s just a coincidence that it’s called the Frost Festival,” said festival chairman Linda Benson. 
She explained the annual event is a revival of an old town tradition of a winter festival, a way for the town to encourage its townspeople to get outdoors and enjoy themselves in the dead of winter. 
Minor fundraising efforts have brought in a little cash to support the weekend activities, mostly through change jars set up at area businesses. Most equipment and services are donated, with a few exceptions. 
“Last year we paid for a magician; this year, our magician is donating his services. We are paying for the Wildlife Encounters because it’s a big hit with the kids, and we pay for the ice sculptors — we didn’t want to give them up,” Benson said. 
David Soha and Dennis Hickey are Ice Breakers, two highly trained full-time chefs who take their mad culinary ice-sculpting skills on the road in their spare time, mostly just to thrill the crowd, said Hickey. “We do it for the ‘wow’ factor, usually it’s something fun for the kids,” Hickey said. 
Although he and Soha haven’t nailed down what they will be creating, he promises five of the ‘coolest’ sculptures to ever take shape in Derry. 
“We love doing the festivals — we also do Merrimack and Concord festivals on a much larger scale than Derry. We’ll start with five blocks and see what happens,” Hickey said. 
Benson is also excited about the addition of local dog-sled racer Pam LaCombe-Connell, of Coyote Farm Fine Arts in East Derry, who will be giving sled dog demonstrations as part of the frosty festivities at Hoodkroft Golf Course on Feb. 13. A free shuttle bus will provide transportation Sunday between activities at the golf course and Galien’s Beach, where there will be ice hockey, skating, ice fishing demos and a chili cook off. 
The only event on the threeday calendar that costs money is Saturday’s Frost Ball. For $40 per person, you can dressup and eat delicious food with your friends, relatives, neighbors or town officials. It’s not sponsored by any particular worthy cause; there will be no lofty speeches or PowerPoint picture essays. 
“People often ask, ‘What is the dinner for?’ It’s just a party. There’s no money to be made. We’reluckytobreakeven,when you consider the cost of the food and the DJ. But for 40 bucks, it’s a fun, economical way to get out and have fun dancing with your friends,” Benson said. “We’ve had groups coming out for years together.” 
In lieu of cash donations, this year organizers have decided to place collection boxes at the various scheduled events where participants can donate canned goods to help replenish the First Baptist Church food pantry. 
Also, The Upper Room will again be holding an indoor mini golf fundraiser. Although it is separate from Frost Fest, it is piggy-backing on the event as a way to gain more participants. Registration is required in advance. See more details below, or go to www.urteachers. org for more information. 
Weather permitting, the current schedule of events for Frost Festival 2011 is: 
Feb. 11: Free spaghetti supper and entertainment for senior citizens at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School cafeteria. 5 p.m. Sponsored by Derry Village Rotary. Call 432-6136 to register. 
Feb. 12-13: Snowboard competition at Alexander-Carr Park. Free registration at 9 a.m. Competition both days is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Finals will be held Feb. 13. There are boys and girls divisions by age, from 7 to 18. All participants must wear a helmet. Bonfire at noon. Arts, crafts and face painting at 1 p.m. Frost Fest King and Queen registration and crowing Feb. 13 by Miss Derry at 2 p.m. 
Feb. 11: Family Performance Showcase from noon to 3 p.m. at Veterans Hall, featuring Let’s Play Music; Bob McLaughlin’s Magic for All Occasions; and Wildlife Encounters. 
Feb. 12: Noon to 4 p.m. Snowmobile rides and demos at Hoodkroft Golf Course, sponsored by Derry Pathfinders Snowmobile Club. Also crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing. All equipment provided free of charge by Benson’s Ski & Sport. Sled dog demonstration from 2 to 4 p.m. by Pam Lacombe-Connell and her dog team. 
Feb. 12: At Galien’s Beach, noon to 3 p.m.: Ice fishing clinic and chili contest, with sampling, sponsored by the Beaver Lake Association (donations welcome). Open ice hockey with the Pinkerton Academy ice hockey team and skating (bring your own skates/sticks/helmets). 
Feb. 12: Ice sculpting at Pocket Park on West Broadway, across from the old Depot Steakhouse, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. by Ice Breakers of Manchester. 
Feb. 12: Puttin’ Families First Indoor Mini Golf sponsored by The Upper Room at Barka Elementary School, 21 Eastgate Road. Registration forms are online at www.urteachers.org, and includes 9 holes of mini golf, raffles, ice cream sundae bar, games, DJ entertainment and T-shirts for those who preregister by Feb. 1. 

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