Fire & Ice Festival draws crowds to Alton Mill for winter themed fun

February 1, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Zachary Roman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alton was a hot spot last weekend as crowds braved the cold to come out to the annual Fire & Ice Festival.

The festival is put on each year by the Alton Mill Arts Centre, which is home to art galleries, studios, event space, beautiful natural surroundings and much more.

A popular attraction at the event is live ice carving, and each year many different carvers showcase their talents outside at the festival.

Anthony Fenech is one such carver — he’s also the principal videographer for the festival, and events coordinator for the Alton Mill Arts Centre. He was carving a hand making the “peace” sign out of ice on Sunday, and said the Arts Centre is a dynamic place that’s really inspiring to him.

“I’ve been coming for eight Fire & Ice (festivals)… it’s just such a magical, eccentric place,” said Fenech. “It’s an outrageously creative place and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Fenech said he really enjoyed this year’s festival and that there were so many things for people to do. He said he wants to see the Alton Mill Arts Centre flourish in the years to come.

“There’s so many dynamic people here, a lot of visionaries,” said Fenech.

In addition to watching the amazing ice carvers, there were many other outdoor activities for attendees to take part in at the festival, such as: the super snow slide, fun photo booth, bonfire, and blacksmith demonstrations. On Saturday evening, there was the famous fire sculpture experience that local artist Paul Morin puts on each year. 

Inside the Arts Centre, there was lots going on as well. Nahid Azari is an artist and volunteer with Headwaters Arts, and she was greeting guests at the door as they came inside from the cold. She happened to have some of her own art on display in Headwaters Arts’ current exhibition: ReLaunch 2024.

Azari is a librarian and has always had a passion for art. Recently, she’s been able to work on, and showcase, her art more. She paints in oil and acrylic, and said they each have their benefits.

Azari spends a lot of time in nature and enjoys nature photography. Often, she will use photos she takes as references for her paintings. One of her recent paintings is of a view off the Caledon Trailway.

She said the Fire & Ice Festival was very active and busy this year which was great to see.

Proceeds from the festival this year were donated to Headwaters Arts, which is a non-profit that supports local artists in the community.

Indoor activities at this year’s festival included a ticketed comedy show and concert, artist workshops, a vendor market, tarot card readings, and more.

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