& Fire & Ice attracts record crowd Police still investigating ice sculpture vandalism Moose chili takes top honors at cook-off

By on February 22, 2012

By: LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer



Photos by Dennis Bicksler
Last weekend's Fire & Ice Festival started off with a downtown block party that included feats of fire-breathing...Photos by Dennis Bicksler
Last weekend's Fire & Ice Festival started off with a downtown block party that included feats of fire-breathing...

Lady Gaga was in Lititz for the Fire & Ice Festival last weekend.

Well, her music was, at least.

There was dancing in the streets during the Friday night block party, with music by Lady Gaga and other performers as young dancers entertained the record crowd.

"I think this may be the biggest crowd yet," said co-founder and organizer Dawn Rissmiller. "The weather is just perfect, not too cold and not too warm."

Indeed, the ice sculptures that lined East Main Street were not melting and visitors to the Fire & Ice Festival were comfortably dressed in winter coats and gloves.

As Rissmiller reported, there were 31 locations with ice sculptures, with designs that included ballet slippers, roosters, trucks, dragons, pine trees and a giant angel throne in front of the recently-saved Lititz Post Office.

The biggest crowd stood at Lititz Mutual on the square, as an ice sculptor created a Fire & Ice design with ice shavings flying in the night air.

While the sculptures represented the "ice" part of the festival, there was plenty of "fire." Youngsters roasted marshmallows on open fires, while a fire-breathing entertainer turned the street brilliant red with his spirited performance.

One of many popular attractions was Mad Tom’s Wreck Room, where anyone could pay to break things. All evening long, wine bottles and other glass bottles were shattering to the cheers of onlookers.

Even Santa Claus was on hand for the Fire & Ice Festival, with Jim Morrison of the Christmas Museum and Elizabeth Farms portraying old St. Nick with his natural white beard and hair.

Save Speedwell was selling fundraising T-shirts to raise money to restore Speedwell Forge Lake.

Rudy’s Hall was a popular stop with an array of craftspeople and artists showing their work. Susan Lewis was selling jars of her Susan Ann’s barbecue sauce and mustard. Margaret Thorn and Andy Smith were among Lititz artists displaying their paintings.

Outside, the street was packed with food vendors, entertainers and visitors who were dazzled by the ice sculptures that were sponsored by Lititz businesses.

The businesses with ice sculptures included Dosie Dough, Spacht Funeral Home, Borough of Lititz, General Sutter Inn, Rotary Club of Lititz, Think Silk, Cafe Chocolate, Bomberger’s, Lititz Record Express, Rohrer’s Quarry, Roma Pizza, Spoiled Silly, Pulse Dance, United Zion, Luther Care, Moravian Manor, Martin Appliance, Sturgis Pretzel, Nino’s, Teddy Bear Emporium, Tiger’s Eye, Curiousity Shoppe, Emerald Advisors, Heavenly Soaps and Scents, Rudy Building, Merchandiser, Where & When, Purple Turtle, Lititz Lions Club, Weaver Energy, Wilbur Chocolate, Lititz Mutual, Risser’s Poultry and David Richard.

There were funnel cakes, crepes, hamburgers, pork barbecue…

Grace Hines of the Lititz Leos was busy serving hot dogs at the stand on East Main Street. It was her second year helping at the event.

"It’s a very fun event and I think the crowd seems bigger than last year," said the Warwick High School senior.

The Lititz Leos, a youth organization associated with the Lions Club, sponsored the Fire & Ice Festival, after taking over from the Lititz Women in Business. The event was originally founded seven years ago by Rissmiller and Tammy Boltz, who now work with the Leos to coordinate the block party, chili cook-off, carnival and other events. This year a Battle of the Bands and a Back to School Dance, both on Saturday, were added to the festivities.

"Every event within the event is at an all-time high for sponsors and participants," said Rissmiller, adding that many charities benefit from the festival.

Sadly, the display of ice sculptures was marred by vandalism that occurred overnight very early Saturday morning.

According to Rissmiller, about six sculptures were damaged by vandals sometime before 4 a.m. Some were knocked over with pieces broken off.

The damaged sculptures included a large rooster and a fire which were in front of Lititz Mutual. The others were a sculpture at Wilbur Chocolate on North Broad Street, and three smaller sculptures on East Main Street, which featured a dollar sign, a soldier and a high-heeled shoe.

Rissmiller recalled that five years ago, an intoxicated man damaged an ice sculpture with a hammer. After that, the Fire & Ice Festival organizers arranged for security. There were no problems since, so they decided it was safe to skip security this year.

"It’s a shame. We didn’t think it was necessary anymore," said Rissmiller, adding that the loss was around $2,500.

She did say that they were working with police, who believed that surveillance cameras might have captured footage of the vandals. As it turned out, most of the damaged sculptures were in areas where there were cameras.

"I just hope the person or persons will turn themselves in on their own, and admit what they did before they are caught," she said. It was a repeat performance for Lititz United Methodist Church at Saturday’s chili cook-off.

They won the People’s Choice award for a second year during act II of last weekend’s Fire & Ice Festival.

Chef Paul Dohner described his people-pleasing chili as having a tomato base, with sausage, jalapeno, brown sugar and a secret ingredient. The secret ingredient, he revealed, was ground moose.

"Sometimes we use venison or other game meat. This year it was moose," he said.

As it turned out, there were lots of different recipes for the cook-off, with lots of different ingredients. Some were hot and spicy. Others were mild and with a touch of sweetness. More than a few had the famous kick at the end, like Dohner’s chili, which did indeed have a finish with a bit of a jolt.

While Dohner used moose, other meat ingredients included pork, beef, venison, chicken, turkey and sausage. Some had beans, or even several types if beans, while others had no beans at all.

"Ours is Texas red style, with no beans. We serve the beans on the side," said Tom Hodges, who cooked up the bean-less chili for the Occupational Development Center.

He used grass-fed beef from a Strasburg area farm and created a rich red sauce. The team dressed in pirate outfits, calling themselves the Pirates of the Chili-Bean. They cheered wildly when they were honored with the Team Spirit Award.

Many of the chefs were happy to divulge their secrets. Sue Weaver of Grace Church referred to her chili as "Lancaster County chili," meaning that it was on the milder side. Last year, she made French-style chili with red wine, which "wasn’t a hit," she reported.

Luther Acres used pork, peppers, beans and lots of onions.

Freeze and Frizz’s Dan Furlow whipped up the chili usually served at his Lititz restaurant, with plenty of beans.

Fireside Tavern and Purple Turtle Consignment teamed up for a medium spicy chili that is also served at the Fireside.

A thicker, chunkier chili was cooked by by chefs Jaci Ganse and Daryl Bowman of United Zion, served on a cornbread crouton.

KPets used fine cuts of beef, including ribeye and sirloin, teaming up with the Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

Chef Tom Burk of H&R Block was one of the few who made a green chili, using green chilies and tomatillos for a meaty dish packed with ground pork and venison.

Local resident Jay Crow made a chili with three kinds of beans and three kinds of pepper for a medium spice.

Jim Owens of Castaway Critters used smoked chiles that were sweetened with a touch of apple juice.

Poultry-based chili chefs included Eric Kazda of Lancaster Young Professionals, who made a Southwestern style chili with black beans, Northern white beans, chickpeas and corn.

Megan Shaffer of Adair’s Brunnerville Flooring used her own recipe for a creamy white chicken chili made with Monterey Jack cheese.

Chef Tony Soto of Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired was not modest about his sweet and spicy chili made with lots of peppers and onions, that heated up at the end.

"It’s fantastic," he said, with a smile.

Organizer Tammy Boltz thought the turnout was also fantastic. She said that 500 pre-sale buttons were purchased, a new record.

"I think we had at least a thousand people here today," she said, adding that the Warwick High School venue provided plenty of space for the contenders and the chili fans.

When it came to the celebrity judging, the six judges all had different opinions on which of the 19 competing chilies was the best.

Mike Michael, assistant chief with the Lititz Fire Company, awarded the Five Alarm Trophy to Crow, a local resident, who was benefiting the Autism Speaks organization.

Lititz Mayor Ron Oettel awarded the Mayor’s Trophy to Luther Acres retirement community and chefs Bill Perham and Ann Gerner, with Luther Acres benefiting its B.I.R.D. Ministry.

Football coach Todd Rucci of the Warwick School Board, and a former New England Patriot football player, presented the All-Star Trophy to Brittany Boltz and Alexa Williams of the Hempfield area Penn State Mini-THON to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund of Penn State Hershey.

The Founders Trophy was presented by co-founder of the Fire & Ice Festival Dawn Rissmiller, who selected H & R Block and their charity, House of His Creation, as her favorite chili.

The Grand Master Trophy was presented by judge Dennis Steiner, president and CEO of Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired, to K Pets, or Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy, an organization that provides and trains therapy dogs.

Marc Shoenfelt, owner of the B2B Baseball facility and associate scout for the Chicago Cubs, presented his MVP Dream Team Trophy to the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

All of the participants raised money for their favorite charity, with the People’s Choice winner, Lititz United Methodist, raising $471 for the Appalachian Service Project.

Each of the participants received a trophy as well.

The Fire & Ice Festival was organized by the Dawn Rissmiller and Tammy Boltz, and sponsored by the Lititz Leos youth group. Boltz arranged the cook-off with help from the Leos and members of the Lions Club, who painstakingly counted the people’s choice tickets. More BLOCK PARTY, page A14 More CHILI, page A14