Fire and Ice brings 5,000 to Blue Ridge

~~By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~

Chris Hall, executive director of Habitat for Humanity dishes out chili. Habitat won first place in the Civic Group.

Chris Hall, executive director of Habitat for Humanity dishes out chili. Habitat won first place in the Civic Group.

Rain began before daylight Saturday, Feb. 18. This did not bode well for volunteers and the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA) who sponsored the 7th annual Fire and Ice Festival in downtown Blue Ridge.
Before noon, organizers began to breathe easier as they saw the rain had not deterred the chili competitors nor the people who look forward to this unique festival every year. An estimated 5,000-6,000 people braved the intermittent showers and cooler weather to sample a variety of delicious chili and see the new ice sculptures made by the Rock on Ice sculptors from Columbus, Ohio.
Ice sculptures for East Main Street businesses were displayed outside the establishments and for those businesses located out of town, city park was a perfect venue for their sculptures.
According to BRBA Vice President Pam Fink, the festival hosted 19 chili competitors that included several from outside Fannin County, and displayed 21 ice sculptures.
Festival-goers purchased $10 cards that entitled them to taste samples of chili from restaurants, individuals, and organizations. The different kinds of hot chili with a variety of ingredients and toppings, proved to be a delicious alternative to the chilly, damp weather. Ingredients like chicken and ground turkey, in addition to traditional ground beef; and toppings of sour cream, cheddar cheese and hot sauce pleased the palate and warmed the body.

Rock on Ice from Columbus, Ohio created the ice sculptures for Fire and Ice.

Rock on Ice from Columbus, Ohio created the ice sculptures for Fire and Ice.

The $10 cards also gave buyers a vote to determine the winners of the chili contest.
The coveted “People’s Choice” award went to Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill.
Other award winners included:
Civic Group
First Place: Habitat for Humanity
Second Place: Blue Ridge Lodging Association
Restaurants
First Place: Copperhead Lodge
Second Place: Celebration Cafe
Third Place: Smokin’3’s BBQ
Individual Person
First Place: Pitt Stop
Second Place: Wynn Cattle/Gibbs Farm
Third Place: Romeo Red
Individual Team
First Place: Mountain Man Comics
Second Place: Old Toccoa Farm
Third Place: Pruitt Healthcare.
Fink thanked volunteers who worked tirelessly to coordinate the Fire and Ice Festival and the people who ventured out on a chilly, wet Saturday to make the Festival a success.