Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the new date for Fete de Glace, which has been postponed to Feb. 6 because of inclement weather.
Ice sculptures are nice — when there are people around to admire them.
The gleaming works of art — staples of country club weddings, office holiday gatherings and fancy banquets — have had a bit of a tough go in the coronavirus era.
More than a dozen ice sculptures will take shape Feb. 6 at the Fete de Glace, an annual ice carving festival and competition on North Main Street in St. Charles. The festival was set for Jan. 30, but organizers announced it would be postponed due to predicted inclement weather.
The event started in 1999 and is believed to be the first ice festival produced in the area.
The other popular ice festival, the Loop Ice Carnival, was canceled this year due to St. Louis city and county restrictions on events and the financial deposits required for the sculptures, which are planned months in advance. The sculptures normally sit outside Delmar Boulevard businesses to lure people inside for shopping and dining.
Other events with ice sculptures, ice bars and liquor luges, such as the Schlafly Cabin Fever Festival and Mardi Gras Mayor’s Ball, also have been canceled.
Rose Wells, organizer of Fete de Glace and owner of Thro’s clothing store on Main Street, says the company that used to provide the massive ice blocks used by sculptors has stopped producing them. Another company will provide the ice now.
“He’s going to supply my ice this year, which is good, because they were in single digits counting how many ice blocks they’ve sold,” Wells says. “The country clubs aren’t doing them. You saw them at weddings. I talked to one carver, and he said, ‘We’ve done three all year.’ If that’s what you do for a living, that’s a lot.”
The festival includes two events, in which carvers using chainsaws, chisels and blowtorches will create sculptures from 275-pound blocks of ice, 40 inches tall and 20 inches wide.
Starting at 10 a.m., four two-person teams will carve five blocks of ice into sculptures. They have until 1 p.m. to finish.
The second event starts at 1:30 p.m. Teams of nine carvers will sculpt a single block, and the sculptures must be finished by 3 p.m.
Spectators will vote for their favorites, and winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. While people watch, they can warm up at an outdoor fire pit and visit stores and restaurants.
Wells hopes for a cloudy, chilly day — normally not great for business but great for keeping ice sculptures from melting. Face masks aren’t required but are encouraged.
Naomi Hamamura, 67, has won several international ice carving competitions as well as the Fete de Glace. He’s a chef at the St. Louis Club in Clayton and usually carves dozens of sculptures each year for events.
This year, he’s sculpted one. He’s not worried about rusty skills.
“I don’t need to practice much,” he says. “I’ve been doing it 40 years.”
Art Phetsadasack and Brian Willis will carve as partners this year, working together to sculpt an eagle swooping into the water to capture a fish. Willis, of Granite City, is a chainsaw carver, but his usual medium is wood. Ice is much easier for him.
“I have to slow myself down with the ice because the wood carves a certain way,” he says. “You’ve got the grain you have to worry about, whereas with the ice, the saw just goes right through.”
He said the pandemic hasn’t hurt his wood sculpture business much, aside from not being allowed inside some parks in the summer to carve tree stumps, and the cancellation of some festivals, where he does demonstrations.
He likes the interactive element of Fete de Glace. “That’s the neat part about it,” he says. “Everybody can sit and watch us make snow cones.”
Phetsadasack is a chef at the Regency conference center in O’Fallon, Illinois, where he would carve the occasional sculpture for a wedding or banquet. Now, the venue focuses on smaller meetings or drive-thru meal events.
He considers ice carving more of a hobby and the festival a chance to shine.
“It’s just being outside and getting away from work,” he says. “It’s contributing to the work of art — ice carving. There’s not a whole lot of that going on. It’s a little token, to just be out there and showing people what you can do for the ice.”
What Fete de Glace • When 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Feb. 6 • Where North Main Street, St. Charles • How much Free • More info discoverstcharles.com
Ready to hit the ice? Here's your guide to area rinks
Centene Community Ice Center
Maryland Heights is home to the shiny, new Centene Community Ice Center, which has three indoor rinks and an outdoor skating arena called the Barn. The rink opened in 2019 and can host hockey, skating and live entertainment. Sessions are limited to 75 skaters. Pre-registration is recommended but not required. On the center's online calendar, public skating is available outside on any session times marked with “Barn.”
Where 750 Casino Center Drive Maryland Heights • Hours 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, with public sessions available • How much $7, $5 for Maryland Heights residents with parks and recreation key tag; skate rental is $4, $3 for Maryland Heights residents • More info centenecommunityicecenter.com
Steinberg Skating Rink
The largest outdoor skating rink in the Midwest, Steinberg has been a St. Louis staple for more than 60 years. The facility also has a firepit and café. For now, the café is a walk-up window due to COVID-19 restrictions. Masks are also required, and keeping social distance from other skaters is encouraged.
Where 400 Jefferson Drive, Forest Park • Hours 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, 1-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 1-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday • How much $10; skate rental is $8 • More info steinbergskatingrink.com
Brentwood Ice Rink
Brentwood Ice Rink has opened for the season, with plenty of chances to get on the ice. The rink offers skating lessons, party packages, adult hockey and public skating. Only 73 people are allowed on the ice, and masks must be worn at all times.
Where 2505 South Brentwood Boulevard, Brentwood • Hours 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; check website for skating schedules • How much $5, $3.50 for Brentwood residents, free for ages 3 and under • More info brentwoodmo.org
Creve Coeur Ice Rink
Creve Coeur keeps skaters on the ice year-round, not just in winter. The rink offers stick-and-puck, parties, skating lessons and public sessions. Visitors must wear masks and complete a health screening.
Where 11400 Olde Cabin Road, Creve Coeur • Hours 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed to the public on Saturdays-Sundays • How much $6, $4 for Creve Coeur or Maryland Heights residents; no skate rental currently available; figure skaters pay $5 for a half-hour, stick-and-puck is $6 per person, and players must supply helmet, gloves and stick • More info creve-coeur.org/131/Creve-Coeur-Ice-Arena
Maryville University Hockey Center
Hockey reigns supreme at the Maryville University Hockey Center. The center is closed for public skating sessions as a COVID-19 safety measure, but groups can still schedule stick-and-puck games. Guests must wear masks at all times, and sessions are limited to 20 people on the ice at a time.
Where 18383 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield • Hours 4-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; check website for session availability • How much $5; skate rental is $2 when the center reopens for public skate sessions • More info maryvilleuhc.com
Wentzville Ice Arena
Wentzville Ice Arena hosts different options to get on the ice: public skates, drop-in hockey, stick-and-puck and a freestyle skate. There are currently no COVID-19 restrictions at the Wentzville Ice Arena. Schedules for public skate sessions are on the arena’s website.
Where 910 Main Plaza Drive, Wentzville • Hours 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday; 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. Wednesday; 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-10:15 p.m. Friday; noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday • How much $6, $5 for residents • More info wentzvillemo.gov
Granite City Ice Rink
Granite City closed its rink for the season, but Justin Brinkmeyer, facilities manager, says the plan is to reopen in October.
Where 2900 Benton Street, Granite City • Hours Currently closed • More info Watch for updates on Facebook
James J. Eagan Civic Center
The James J. Eagan Civic Center, located in Florissant, offers public skate sessions and stick-and-puck in its outdoor (but covered) arena. Figure skaters can show off their skills in the center of the ice.
Where 1 James J. Eagan Drive, Florissant • Hours Public skate hours are 7-9 p.m Wednesday and Friday; 1:30-3:30 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Saturday; 2-4 p.m. Sunday • How much $5, $3 for residents; $4 for ages 4-17, $2 for residents; free for ages 3 and younger • More info florissantmo.com/topic/index.php?topicid=21
McKendree Metro RecPlex
With two ice rinks, McKendree Metro RecPlex has room for skaters as well as for concerts and other events. The facility offers memberships so visitors can enjoy the ice arena and its other facilities. The junior ice rink, where public sessions take place, is only open to members as a COVID-19 precaution. Members can reserve individual skate sessions online. Skaters must wear masks and maintain social distance. If McKendree reopens for the general public, reservations will be required for public skating sessions.
Where 205 Rec Plex Drive, O'Fallon, Illinois • Hours 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Noon-8 p.m. Sunday; check website for public session schedules • How much $15, $10 for ages 17 and under, $30 for family of four for public skating when rink reopens • More info metrorecplex.com/ice
Kennedy Ice Rink
Kennedy Ice Rink in St. Louis County has space for any skaters ready to get back on the ice. Kennedy offers public skating and ice skating lessons and hosts hockey games. The rink will be open until March 3 with no reservations required. Masks must be worn at all times.
Where 6050 Wells Road • Hours 10 a.m.-noon Monday-Thursday (3:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday); 10 a.m.-noon and 7-9 p.m. Friday; 2:15-4:15 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Saturday; 12:15-2:15 p.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday • How much $6, $5 for children and seniors • More info stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/parks/places/kennedy-recreation-complex/
St. Peters Rec-Plex
St. Peters Rec-Plex houses two buildings: Rec-Plex North, which has one ice arena, and Rec-Plex South, which has two. Rec-Plex South hosts hockey games and is available to rent, while North is home to hockey programs, the figure skating program and public sessions. Masks are required, and advanced registration is required. Only 35 participants are allowed on the rink.
Where 5200 Mexico Road, St. Peters • Hours 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; public skating session times vary, and registration is required online • How much $9.50, $6.25 for 18 and younger, $6.75 for seniors, $4 for veterans; skate rentals are $3.50 (discounts available for St. Peters residents) • More info stpetersmo.net/st-peters-rec-plex.aspx
Kirkwood Ice Rink
Kirkwood Ice Rink is where NHL Hall-of-Famer Pat LaFontaine started skating. The rink has also seen Olympic figure skaters and speed skaters hone their skills on its ice. Face masks must be worn at all times by everyone over age 3. There is also a mandatory temperature check and COVID-19 screening. Visitors also must pre-register before skating and cannot arrive more than 30 minutes before their scheduled time. No more than 65 skaters are allowed on the ice.
Where 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood • Hours Public skate sessions are mostly 3:15-4:45 p.m. Sundays; more will be added, so check website • How much $5, $4 for Kirkwood residents; skate rental is $2 • More info kirkwoodparksandrec.org
Queeny Park Ice Rink
Queeny Park in St. Louis County offers the same opportunities as Kennedy Park. There is no need for reservations at Queeny Park Ice Rink — just masks. The rink will remain open until Feb. 21.
Where 550 Weidman Road • Hours 10 a.m.-noon Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-noon, 1:45-3:45 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Friday; 8-9:30 p.m. Saturday; 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday • How much $6, $5 for children and seniors • More info stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/parks/places/greensfelder-recreation-complex/
Webster Groves Ice Rink
Webster Groves Ice Rink goes beyond public skating sessions with adult scrimmages, stick-and-puck, training sessions and the chance to rent the rink for a game of broomball. For those feeling a bit groovy, there are cosmic skating sessions on Friday and Saturday nights. Guests must pre-register for skating sessions and will be required to submit a health screening on arrival. Only 50 skaters are allowed in the rink.
Where 33 East Glendale Road, Webster Groves • Hours 5:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday • How much $6, $4 for seniors; $4.50 for residents, $3 for seniors; skate rental is $2; cosmic skate night is $8 • More info webstergroves.org/197/Ice-Arena
Pacific Ice Rink
Pacific Ice Rink is part of the Chesterfield Hockey Association, as is the Maryville University Hockey Center. Like the Maryville center, Pacific Ice Rink is not currently open for public skating sessions. It does offer stick-and-puck sessions and adult drop-in hockey games, as well as freestyle figure skating sessions. Masks are required off the ice.
Where 460 Indian Warpath Drive, Pacific • Hours 4-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; check website for schedules • How much $5 for public sessions when it reopens; adult drop-in hockey sessions are $15, stick-and-puck and freestyle figure skating sessions are $10 • More info sites.google.com/maryvilleuhc.com/pacific-ice-rink
Shaw Park, a popular outdoor skating venue, is closed for the winter while the facility awaits a major renovation. Andrea Muskopf, assistant to the city manager, says the project is on hold due to budget limitations during the pandemic. The rink won't open at all this year, and there is no estimated date for construction.
Where 217 South Brentwood Boulevard • Hours Closed • More info claytonmo.gov/government/parks-recreation/shaw-park-ice-rink