BETHEL — Droplets of semi-frozen wind-blown water noisily plopped atop ice-covered snow late Tuesday afternoon around the base of this town’s attempt to create a 140-foot-tall tower of ice for next month’s winter festival.

By 4:25 p.m., the temperature at the Bethel Station venue was 22 degrees F. and starting to fall.

In the fading daylight, small colorful lights lining guy wires holding the steel structure in place, became more visible, giving it the appearance of a communications tower.

The slowly-forming ice tower was about 20 feet high and appeared to be in the early stages of spreading around a cluster of wooden pallets and metal fencing wrapped around the base.

“It’s very cool because it’s got lights up on the guy wires, and so you can see it from a distance,” Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday morning.

Zinchuk said the metal-piping tower was erected shortly before Christmas, but not without the unexpected problems that usually crop up with overly large, first-time experiments.

“They ended up having to have Western Maine Steel donate some steel to help support the pipe, which wasn’t heavy-duty enough to take the ride up on the crane,” Zinchuk said.

She said project engineer Jim Sysko of Newry, who designed the structure, Jim Bennett, Bob Westfall and welder Ed Bennett, all of Bethel, figured out a solution, got the steel and placed it around the lighter water piping to keep it from bending.

“They were wrestling with it all last week and it came right up to Christmas Day that they were working on it,” Zinchuk said.

The ice tower will be the focal point of the Bethel Winterfest, which is from Jan. 22 through 30. Water is slowly being released at increments of 20 feet whenever temperatures are conducive for ice making.

The blizzard Sunday night and Monday prevented the crew from restarting the slow flow of water and monitoring the structure, but the water was flowing again Tuesday.

“They’ve let the water out of the 20-foot (tall) pipe, so I imagine there’s some accumulation of ice up to 20 feet, but it’s just sort of holding onto the pipes and kind of draping over some wooden pallets that are at the bottom,” Zinchuk said.

“It’s accumulating. It’s slow, so we’re not sure yet how it’s all going to transpire. We always knew it was going to be a work in progress.”

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