Dubuque hosting 11th annual Ice Fest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque hosting 11th annual Ice Fest

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On Sunday, warmer temperatures made for a warmer-than-usual beginning to Ice Fest at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium this weekend in Dubuque. As a part of the festival, two teams of snow carvers continued carving their elaborate art pieces on Sunday afternoon.

K Dyer is a member of the Snow Babes sculpting team. Her team was sculpting stingrays out of snow. She said her team had to be careful Sunday due to the warmer winter weather.

"We have to be gentle with the snow," Dyer said. "Between 14 degrees and 20 degrees is best for sculpting in the snow because you can get really clean lines and you can move a lot of snow that will hold really well."

"Right now the snow is so warm that even a paint brush will make an impression in the snow, when we are just trying to get the extra snow off." Dyer said.

The warmer weather led many to theNational Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium on Sunday.  Ty Milutinovich, a 12-year-old from Coon Valley, Wisconsin, made his way through the Museum and Aquarium with his father. He said he had no idea Ice Fest was taking place but enjoyed seeing the snow sculptures being created.

"I make a lot of snowmen but nothing like this." Milutinovich said Sunday morning.

Officials with the Museum and Aquarium say during Ice Fest they see an increase in ticket sales. Keith Rahe is the president of the Dubuque Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said Ice Fest helps bring tourists to the Dubuque area during the winter months.

"Our peak seasons are June through October," Rahe said. "We are very unique in with all the fall foliage, we stay strong all the way through October into November. So we do see numbers go down but when we have great events like Ice Fest it really helps increase awareness."

On Sunday, the Dubuque Fire and Rescue Department hosted an open water rescue demonstration as a part of the festival. Mark Ludescher is assistant chief of the Dubuque Fire Department. He said the demonstration was just another way to show the public one of the many things fire departments across the state do.

"We have a large body of water here in the Mississippi but most of our water rescues happen inside the city limited at ponds and on streets during flooding," Ludescher said.

During the event, members of the Dubuque Fire Department demonstrated different tools and procedures they used during a water rescue on the icy Mississippi River to the public. They also went through some items they recommend individuals have with them if they venture out onto ice.

"It's always the best idea to be able to rescue yourself," Ludescher said. "If you get into trouble you should have a plan. We will demonstrate how to use ice picks, an item that ice fisherman typically care and can use to get themselves out of the water."

Ludescher said he hopes the demonstration helps show people just how dangerous water can be.

"I think a lot of ice fishermen build on experience, I think you are best if you don't know what you are doing to stay off the ice. If you are not prepared, if you do not have the right equipment, or knowledge just stay off of it. It is much more safe," Ludescher said.

Ice Fest will continue at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium on January 18th, 19th, and 20th.

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