Fire & Ice Reading
Ordinarily, we only write about events that we host at Cape May Brewing Co, but there’s seriously nothing ordinary about the Reading Fire & Ice Festival.
It’s even rarer that we use the phrase “cool as hell”, but, y’all… this is cool as hell.
We’re talking live ice carving demonstrations, fire swallowing, music, a chili cook-off, a killer party, and a craft beer festival.
And it’s kicking off Friday in the 500 block of Penn Street at 5:30pm.
“This is such an awesome festival!” says our Reading area Sales Manager, Ashley Pike. “All of the demonstrations are jaw-dropping, and this is a great chance for us to showcase our products in the Reading area.”
Now in its sixth year, this is the first year that the festival has included a craft beer component.
“We’re including a craft beer festival for the first time this year to expand the festival to the population of Berks County and beyond,” says Andrew Keuscher, the Special Projects Director at the Reading Downtown Improvement District. “Reading has become a hotspot for craft beer — we have several breweries in the area and a long history of beer, so adding a beer festival to a wintertime tradition is a good way to expand and get more people into Reading to see why the city is so great.”
Andrew is a lifelong resident of Reading and says that the city has changed for the better over the past ten years.
“The Fire & Ice Festival is a good time,” he says. “While the festival itself is free, the craft beer festival has a small fee, but it’s affordable and well worth the price. For our first year, we’ve got seventeen breweries, and I think that’s an awesome feat.”
“We wanted to focus on local, but we think that Cape May is local to us — it’s just a short drive — so we wanted to include you,” says Melissa Harenza, who organized the breweries for the festival. “We’ve gotten together a lot of the city of Reading’s breweries, but wanted to branch out.”
Melissa admits that she’s a wine drinker, so she has a very dedicated volunteer who helped her find which breweries to include.
“My volunteer highly recommended that we include Cape May.”
The ice for the festival — and many of the ice demonstrations — are provided by Sculpted Ice Works of Lakeville, PA.
These guys, as Ryan might say, are the real deal. First of all, they create all of their ice in their facility to ensure that it’s crystal clear and doesn’t look like something you’re going to get out of your own freezer with bubbles and cracks and inconsistencies throughout the block. They look like the purest diamonds you’ll ever find.
Then, they can sculpt them into more or less anything you can design. They add colors, they can freeze things in the ice: these things are serious works of art. They do seafood displays, corporate sculptures, things for weddings. They can even do an entire bar made of ice, complete with speed racks! But, unfortunately, they don’t stick around for very long.
On top of that, they’ve got Madeline Belle, a professional fire performer and hoop dancer from Philly. She specializes in fire breathing, fire eating, fire hoops, fire torches, fire palm torches, and has her very own custom-made deer antler fire headdress.
Yeah. A custom-made deer antler fire headdress. We didn’t expect to encounter that combination of words, but we’re so much the better for it.
Flame Nouveau will be at the festival, as well. From the Allentown area, they incorporate bellydance and fire. Warehouse Manager Craig Tropp tried that once and almost burnt down the brewery.
Throughout the weekend, you’ll be able to catch performances from these fire artists and demonstrations by the ice sculptors. In addition, there’s a competition between the ice sculptures — be sure to pick out your favorites!
If the fire dancers aren’t enough to keep you warm, there are seven outdoor concerts throughout the weekend that will get you dancing, featuring 25th Hour, Short Stack Sam and The Battery, Hott Toddys, Glen Onoko, thequietcampaign, Cody Tyler & Gypsy-Convoy, and Flux Capacitor.
“I’m looking forward to people seeing what Reading has to offer,” Andrew says.
If you happen to be in the area this weekend, be sure to check out this FREE festival and let us know what you thought!