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Fire and Ice Festival to Bring Old West to Somerset

Round up the cattle and put on your finest 10-gallon hat because this year’s Fire and Ice Festival will take you to the American frontier.

“Wild, Wild West,” the 19th annual winter festival, will be held Jan. 17-19 in Uptown Somerset and Stephanie Williams, executive director of Somerset Inc., said this year is going to be unlike any other.

“After you’ve done a festival for some 17 or 18 years, you need to do something different because people who come year after year sort of get tired of seeing the same snowflakes and Old Man Winter and things like that,” she said.

From ice carvings to window decorations, Williams said there will be a little cowboy everywhere you look. Even the Fire and Ice pins, which give visitors access to special festival events, feature a snowman donning 10-gallon hat and wielding a lasso.

Pins can be purchased at more than 10 locations across Somerset County, including the American Legion.

Williams said the celebration gets people to come together at a time when frigid temperatures keep most people inside.

“People come from all over,” she said, “and part of the reason they do is because it is a winter festival and there aren’t very many of them. It’s more than just coming for the ice carvings. We have activities they can participate in and have fun with and entertainment throughout the weekend.”

The celebration kicks off Friday with a window and interior decorating contest, soup sale, photo contest, and live ice carving. County music will be performed 6-11 featuring the Teen Band Blast and the Country Express Band. The day comes to a close with a John Wayne look-and-sound-alike contest starting at 8 p.m.

Festivities continue Saturday at 7 a.m. with an all you can eat pancake breakfast, 5k walk/run, multiple billiards tournaments, a chili and soup cook-off, and a fireworks display, with ice carving demonstrations taking place throughout the day. The festival will wind down with a performance by the Michael O’Brian Band at 8 p.m.

The celebration will end Sunday when the winners of the window and interior decorating contest are announced.

Williams said they don’t keep track of the numbers, but she expects more than 3,000 people to visit Somerset this weekend.

“The streets are jammed with people,” she said. “The streets are jammed with cars and people all around. It’s extremely busy and it’s wonderful. People come here and really enjoy the ambiance of a small town and we’re happy to showcase our little bit of the world here.”