Alumnus Caleb Landis won last year’s Ice Fest ice carving competition. Student and alumni ice sculptors sharpen their talents and blades months in advance for the annual festival, a celebration of the culinary art form synonymous with UA's Hospitality Management Program.
The University of Akron’s celebrated ice carvers will transform Buchtel Common into a mini ice museum at Ice Fest 2016 on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The University invites guests to watch its culinary arts students and alumni fashion 300-pound ice blocks into fanciful sculptures just outside the Student Union. Meanwhile, inside the Student Union atrium near Starbucks, the sculptors will craft melons, radishes and other fruits and vegetables into intricate, colorful and fragrant works of art.
New this year, the Ice Fest will pay tribute to Zips basketball. Members of the team will stop by to greet festival visitors and pass out giveaways between 8 and 8:30 a.m. In keeping with the basketball theme, a giant ice throne — atop which visitors can grab seats and photo opportunities — will feature a LeBron James ice portrait.
Another event highlight, a speed ice-carving contest beginning at 11:45 a.m., will headline 2006 Olympic ice sculpting gold medalist Aaron Costic ’91, and Chef Richard Alford, UA hospitality management associate professor emeritus and Ice Fest founder.
Throughout the event, student and alumni ice carvers will create a collection of frozen statues as they compete for awards. The festival concludes with an awards presentation at 1:30 p.m. inside the Student Union.
“Extracurricular activities like the Ice Fest are important components of experiential learning in the hospitality management program,” says Jamal Feerasta, professor and lead faculty, UA hospitality management. “These events help students acquire skills that are in big demand in the industry.”
The University’s Hospitality Management Program, which claims several master carvers and renowned chefs among its alumni, was recently ranked as a top associate degree program by The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator.
The program also is ranked as one of the best two-year programs in the country by BestHospitalityDegrees.com. Hospitality Management at UA “is noted for being active in the community and providing ample opportunities for students to participate while earning real-world experience,” notes Jamie Agamalian, manager of online communications for BestHospitalityDegrees.com.
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Culinary arts students and alumni will work with a “mystery basket” of fruits and vegetables from which they will create carvings throughout Ice Fest 2016.