by DREW HOWARD
Downtown Rochester invites everyone to brrr-ave the cold and celebrate the winter season with a host of games, activities, food and drinks, and more during its annual Fire & Ice Festival running January 19 – 21.
Hosted by Oakland County, Oakland County Parks and the City of Rochester and Downtown Rochester, the 2018 Fire & Ice Festival promises to be a celebration of all-things winter. The three-day event will include a wide variety of activities such as tubing, ice skating, fireworks, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and much more.
Jenna O’Dell, events coordinator at the Rochester Downtown Development Authority (DDA), said the festival looks to capitalize on downtown’s growing reputation as one of the premier spaces for winter and Christmas events.
O’Dell added that the festival will also bring back one of downtown’s most popular attractions.
“We hope to have a record number of people at every event, and I do feel like Rochester has begun to be noticed statewide,” O’Dell said. “We have a lot of people travel from outside Oakland County to see the Big, Bright Light Show, which will be aglow for the event. This gives another opportunity for people who didn’t get to the see the lights.”
The 2018 Fire & Ice Festival looks to support several downtown businesses through a Taste Fest featuring nine vendors. Vendors include Buffalo Wild Wings, Bologna Via Cucina, Holy Cannolis, Mystic Kettle, O’Connor’s Public House, Rochester Mills Brewing Company, Rockin’ Cupcakes, U.P. Pasties and Denton Coffee.
“The nine businesses will bring smaller portions of things you can purchase,” O’Dell said. “The idea is you can taste different businesses, for example wings from Buffalo Wild Wings or a cannoli from Holy Cannoli, at a reasonable price. But they’re not serving a whole meal – the idea is to eat your way through the festival.”
In addition to the nine businesses, attendees are also encouraged to check out the festival’s five featured food trucks: Mercurio Food Specialties, Nosh Pit Detroit, El Charro, Sweetwater Tavern, and Crepe Day-Twah.
Other festival activities include an ice sculpture competition, a musical performance by “Jennifer Kincer & Friends,” carriage rides, face painting, dog sled rides, a pet adoption center, and evening fireworks, among other things.
Due to the high volume of attendees expected, O’Dell said a shuttle to the festival will be provided in the lot located in front of Buffalo Wild Wings on Walton Blvd. The shuttle ride is free and will drop off attendees at E. Fourth and East Street.
Several of the activities this year were missing at the previous festival due to warmer-than-expected temperatures, though the brutally cold weather as of late suggests this won’t be an issue. Attendees can avoid the cold in the festival’s warming tent where the vendors are located.
O’Dell added that the festival will also be a great opportunity to support local businesses.
“I think it’s going to be a really fun event,” O’Dell said. “A lot of people come downtown, and we obviously have a lot going on – our businesses are going to hopefully thrive from this event. If someone needs to stay warm they can go into a store and do business with them.”
The 2018 Fire & Ice Festival is free and open to the public.
The celebration runs Friday 5 – 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, visit downtownrochestermi.com or the Fire & Ice Festival Facebook page.