Ice Eagle from last year’s Icestravaganza.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and when it’s the dead of winter in Iowa, you make ice sculptures.

Davenport is hosting its annual Icestravaganza this weekend on the Mississippi riverfront. Jason Gilliland, at the Downtown Davenport Partnership, says the fest features six expert ice carvers who will be using some 36,000 pounds of ice to create glimmering, frozen visions under the theme Famous Monuments.

“You’ll be seeing things like the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, pyramids, those kinds of things,” Gilliland says. “These range from one block of ice to maybe 35 blocks of ice for a sculpture, so some of them are actually pretty large.” Each block of ice weighs around 300 pounds and they’re trucking in 120 blocks for the event.

This is the 11th year for the Icestravaganza and Gilliland says the carvers are hypnotizing to watch. “They do use some power tools, they use chainsaws, and a few other drills and things, but then they also use a lot of hand tools as well,” he says, “some of them that they’ve made themselves.” The ice carvings will be on display Friday through Sunday at the Freight House along the boardwalk and on Beiderbecke Drive in Davenport’s LeClaire Park.

A lighting director will illuminate each ice sculpture with a series of colored L-E-Ds, switching them on nightly at dusk. “These sculptures are really cool during the daytime but they really come alive at night, and part of what we do is we have a drive-through portion,” Gilliland says, “so if you don’t necessarily want to get out and walk around, if it’s a little chilly for you, you can do a drive-through and see a lot of the sculptures.”

One of the event’s special highlights is the Afterglow Party on Saturday night. “We’re going to have one of the carvers do live carving and he brings his own blocks of ice that are infused with UV dye,” Gilliland says. “We’ll have black lights going, we’ll have a light show and a DJ that’s playing live as well while he’s carving.”

All events are free.

Radio Iowa