Fire and nice: Brodhead gets set for seasonal festival

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Frank Schultz
Saturday, November 25, 2017

BRODHEAD—Ed Mikkelson’s preparations for the Brodhead Fire & Ice festival include freezing the T-shirts.

The sixth annual event starts Friday in this village that hugs the Rock-Green county line, and its frozen T-shirt contest is part of the fun.

The object of the T-shirt contest is to be the first to don the garment. Mikkelson soaks the oversized shirts in a bathtub and then hangs them to drip awhile before freezing them in zippered plastic bags.

The trick is not to let them drip too long, he said.

Mikkelson did not want to give any hints for how to win the contest, which allows contestants to use only their body heat and the pavement.

“They find a way,” he said, adding that the shirts often tear in the process.

The contest costs $15 to enter and features prizes of $100, $50 and $25. The T-shirts are big enough to fit over clothing, even coats.

It’s likely the T-shirt contest, while comical, is not the reason the festival has grown over the years, from about 1,000 watching its lighted parade to as many as 2,500.

That’s a lot of people for a village of 3,300.

Here are five things that might make you venture out to Brodhead next weekend:

1. Ice sculpting: Watching a craftsman at work is nice. When the medium is ice, it’s intriguing.

The sculptor is Zoli Akacsos of Monroe, who is also a talented woodcarver, Mikkelson said.

Akacsos attacks the ice with an electric chainsaw and other tools. He will be at work from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday on the square.

Akacsos will likely make four or five pieces, most or all Christmas-inspired. One year, one of the pieces was a snowflake.

Don’t worry if the temperature is above freezing. The ice blocks are shaded from the sun, and they likely won’t start melting until Saturday, Mikkelson said.

2. Hot stuff: Luminaries will add luster to the downtown and square. Fire pits will be available for roasting hot dogs, marshmallows and making s’mores from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday. Hot chocolate and chili will be for sale in front of Fibs North, 906 W. Exchange St.

3. The parade: Thirty or more units, all glowing in seasonally colored light bulbs, are expected, starting at 7 p.m. Friday.

The parade starts, rain or shine, at the corner of 10th Street and Third Avenue, turning left on First Center Avenue, then left at 12th Street, ending at Veterans Park. Santa and Mrs. Claus (Why does she never get a first name?) will be there.

4. The Wheels to Prosper car giveaway: Kubly’s Automotive gives away a used car valued around $5,500, and other prizes are two $500 gas cards from Speich Oil and groceries from the Piggly Wiggly. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Friday.

No one knows who will win. Nominations come from the community, and a committee picks someone based on need and contribution to the community, Mikkelson said.

Nominees are aware they’ve been nominated.

It’s always a heartwarming event, Mikkelson said.

5. Free photos with Santa: Bri Larsen of Larsen’s Photography will take photos from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday downtown at the former Java House. Sugar River Bank-Brodhead Branch is responsible for the “free” part.

Questions? Call Barb Clark at 608-897-8607.

Mikkelson said the festival continues Saturday, but that day's events likely won’t attract as many out-of-town visitors as Friday's.

That’s just as well for Janesvillians, who have their own festival, the Jolly Jingle, which features a parade at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Other events include:

--horse-drawn carriage rides, 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday and after the parade until 8:30 p.m.

--Christmas-decorated pet contest with judging in front of City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

--arts/crafts fair, noon to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Bank of Brodhead’s courtesy room.

--hot toddy bar, 21 and older only, courtesy of Bridges Bar & Grill.

--50-50 raffle to benefit White Gift, the local charity.

--fresh-popped kettle corn for sale, 3 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, in front of the Bank of Brodhead clock.

--Breakfast with Santa 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Brodhead Public Library.

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