Earlier this week, Bethany Fenwick-Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lauren Weaver was asked about how preparation for the “Delmarvelous” Fire & Ice Festival, set for this week, were coming.

“Well, 38,000 pounds of ice are heading this way,” she said.

It’s go time.

Fire & Ice Festival

While Bethany Beach is still at the center of the event, the 2021 Fire & Ice Festival will expand to an even larger scale, spreading out attendees for better social distancing and incorporating more towns and businesses than ever before.

The Fire & Ice Festival, normally held in late January, is later this year because COVID-19 made planning the event a risky and difficult task. Plans came together just in the past few weeks, Weaver said, with sponsors getting on board right up until the last minute, adding sculpture locations and special promotions.

“It was harder to plan this year than any year in the past,” Weaver said. She added, however, that the community — particularly businesses — have stepped up and made for a festival that promises to be even bigger than before.

“Events and specials have tripled, if not quadrupled,” just in the past two weeks, Weaver said.

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Abigail McCabe, 9 months, visits a glowing Fire & Ice display in Ocean View during the 2020 event.

Sculptures will now be located at 15 locations throughout southern Sussex County. Special events include the ticketed Tour de Fuego event at Lord’s Landscaping in Millville on Friday, Feb. 26, tastings at Salted Vines and at Banks Wines & Spirits, a live ice-carving demonstration at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites on the boardwalk, special events at the Millville Boardwalk complex throughout the weekend, and a scavenger hunt with a prizes including a getaway and an outdoor package.

Creative Concepts furniture store is holding a free drawing for a model of a clipper ship, which will be echoed in the ice sculpture on display there.

Although the hard-fought drink contest is over, with Cottage Café’s Melanie Petrie freezing out the competition with her “More on the Shore” take on an orange crush, there is a Fire & Ice tasting tour on tap for those who want to taste-test all the entries from seven different restaurants.

Fire & Ice Festival

Participating businesses will have ice sculptures on display outside their locations for this weekend's Fire & Ice Festival, with a number also offering activities or food.

The central activity is, of course, the ice sculptures. Businesses throughout the area are sponsoring them, which carries the added benefit of drawing an audience to local businesses just as many are preparing to open for the season.

“It’s an awesome opportunity” to spotlight local businesses, which have worked hard during the past year to provide safe ways to serve their customers, Weaver said.

Two recent additions to the Fire & Ice fun are a painting activity featuring artist John Donato, at Pottery Place in Fenwick Island, and a special activity at the Fenwick Shores hotel, also in Fenwick Island, featuring Local Coffee Roasting Co. and High Tide Coffee & Bowls offering coffee and chocolate treats. The event is paired with a wine-tasting, with an ice sculpture on the Fenwick Shores pool deck. Tickets for both are $30 a person with proceeds going to Justin’s Beach House, a respite vacation property in Bethany Beach for families affected by cancer.

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A ice slide was a hit during the 2020 Fire & Ice Festival.

Walking tours for viewing sculptures will be set up in downtown Bethany Beach, at John West Park in Ocean View, at the Millville Boardwalk complex, and at Lord’s Landscaping (Saturday only, due to the ticketed Tour de Fuego on Friday night) starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings.

“We’re excited to get everyone out of their houses,” Weaver said. “It’s our way to kick this winter to the curb.”

For a full list of Fire & Ice 2021 “Delmarvelous” activities, go to the event website, www.fireandicede.com for a schedule for the weekend. The ice-carving demonstration by Ice Lab will be live-streamed on Facebook from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Staff Reporter

Kerin majored in journalism at Ohio University and has worked as an editor and reporter for monthly, daily and weekly publications in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1983. A native of Baltimore, Md., she has lived in Ocean View since 1996.