LEWISTON — When the sun went down, colored lights enhanced ice sculptures on the patio outside DaVinci's Eatery, which was jammed with people, drinks in hand.
People attending the Ice Festival of Lewiston-Auburn on Saturday wore winter jackets, hats and smiles. Despite falling snow, they mingled as they waited in line for bartenders to pour drinks.
The inaugural festival, a fundraiser for L/A Arts, offered plenty of frozen art.
Three ice bars, each 8 feet long, were created by Massachusetts artist Don Chapelle. One bar was for Baxter beer, another for Sequin wine, the third for Pinnacle vodka. Chapelle also created the Sasquatch.
Other sculptures included a life-size Vespa scooter for DaVinci's; a mother and child; Minerva, the goddess of wisdom; a bear, a swan and a real igloo.
"This is very enjoyable,” said Harold Dorr of Winthrop.
“It's a smaller scale of the winter carnival in Quebec,” said his wife, Shelley. The atmosphere was fun, they said. “Everybody is sociable. The drinks are good and the art is great,” he said as they admired an ice swan carved earlier in the day by David Moyer of Turner.
Joann King of Mechanic Falls was in line to get a vodka. “It's amazing,” she said of the eight-foot ice bar that featured fruit frozen inside. The festival “is great,” she said. “It gets us out in the winter.”
Amy Barriault of Central Distributors of Lewiston was bartending at the Sequin ice bar, serving up wine in a fun way.
“When somebody gets a drink, you pour it into the funnel at the top,” Barriault said. The wine flows down a tube inside the ice and fills a glass at the bottom. As the wine flows, “people are taking pictures. They're absolutely loving it,” she said. “People are impressed that wine can be this fun.
The Friday night opening saw an estimated 1,000 people, organizer Jules Patry said. He called that "phenomenal." Saturday night's crowd was even larger.
Earlier in the day, people came to watch live sculpting demonstrations.
Brothers Adrien and Cameron Paradis, 11 and 12, admired the 8-foot, smiling Sasquatch hoisting a Budweiser keg. Their brother, Nicholas, 6, liked the bar made of ice featuring logos from Gritty's brewpub and Baxter Brewing Co.
“I kind of like this one,” said their mother, Tanya Paradis of Poland, looking at the Sequin wine bar. “It's amazing,” she said. Frozen inside the upper part were real bottles of wine and grapes. The lower part featured colorful bubbles, and the wine's logo was chiseled on the front.
The boys' grandmother, Verna Thurlow of Lewiston, who works for TD Bank, said she was partial to the bank's commissioned sculpture showing off its logo, one of dozens of corporate ice sculptures on display.
The family gave a thumbs-up to the festival. “I'm very impressed. It's great they have something like this,” Paradis said.
Meanwhile, two local artists were turning ice to art. Anthony Bernard of Lewiston had an assortment of tools — chain saw, knives, chisels, hand saws — to carve a family of hearts.
David Moyer, manager of nutrition for SeniorsPlus, used a chain saw to begin creating a swan. Moyer said he first learned about ice sculpting in culinary school, then learned more techniques from a friend. “There's always a carving in a block of ice,” he said. “You just have to look for it.”
David and Nicole Bergeron of Turner, watched with their young daughter, Danielle. “It's pretty amazing,” David Bergeron said over the buzz of chain saws. The sculptures are "all great; very cool.”
The festival's ice-carving guru is Chapelle of Brilliant Ice Sculpture, who was pleased with the morning's weather, 32 degrees and light snow. “This is fabulous,” Chapelle said. “When we don't have sunshine, I'm all sorts of happy. Sunlight turns ice sculptures from brilliantly clear to cloudy. Sun is basically ultraviolet light going through ice and ripping it apart.”
Making ice bars is a process, he said. “It takes 10 days."
The festival began Friday night and will continue through Sunday.
The night festival featured food served in the Bates Atrium by local restaurants, including DaVinci's, Fish Bones, Fuel, Sea 40, Wei-Li and Mother India, among others.
The ice festival idea came from DaVinci owner Jules Patry and his bar manager, Brian Magnin. They visited an ice event at the Portland Harbor Hotel last year. It seemed like a fun community event that could be held in Lewiston-Auburn, Magnin said.
Sunday is family day from 11 to 2. There is no charge to see the ice sculptures.