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New Fairgrounds drive-thru display turns ice into art

Payne Horning
Jeff Bleier, owner of Glacier Art in Rochester, prepares an ice sculpture to resemble a large clock and Father Time for an art drive thru display at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

Central New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing plenty of ice at this time of year, but they've never seen it like this: a new drive-thru display at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse features upwards of 80 sculptures carved from more than 150,000 pounds of ice blocks.

This holiday display, which is the first of its kind at the fairgrounds, was the brainchild of Stanley Kolonko, owner of The Ice Farm in East Syracuse. His business provides sculptures for weddings, banquets, buffets, and parties, so it's taken a major hit this year when the pandemic cancelled or postponed many of those types of events. Kolonko hopes this display can help his business stay afloat and offer something to a restless public.

Credit Payne Horning
Ahead of the Ice Sculpting Masters drive-thru holiday display, workers put the finishing touches on their artwork.

"Well, I'm hoping it helps me through," Kolonko said. "Usually my winter months are quite busy. January and February are my busiest; there’s no business.

So, I’m hoping this helps me get through. Plus, they get out of the house, they get to see something unique. Hopefully, they're just inspired and see some nice artwork, something different."

Drive-thru events, like the Lights on the Lake display in Onondaga County, have proven popular this yearas many people are itching to celebrate the holiday season safely. The Ice Sculpting Masters drive-thru event ends January 3.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.