At 6 p.m. Friday, it was 44 degrees in Cambridge, but it felt colder in Cannery Way.
That was one of the entrances to the Second Annual Ice & Oyster Festival that brought two days of sparkle to town. There were enough things to see, do and consume to keep any visitor busy for hours.
The main draw downtown was the impressive display of 48 ice sculptures, many of which weren’t just to look at. Some were designed for folks to pose for photos by, including a duck blind, a caboose and two full-sized thrones.
A particular favorite was the Hyatt Regency Polar Lounge, featuring two sofas, a coffee table and more. There were the ones built for playing games such as corn hole, tic tac toe and mini golf. And there was a unique graffiti wall for drawing and writing on.
The sculptures made for admiring were pretty great, too, and all had some local connection. Anyone would have recognized the Cambridge Creek Drawbridge, but the terrapin, deer and retriever were carved to perfection, as well. Most had changing colored lights that added an uncanny effect or emphasized some detail.
A couple of ice wonders had a different interactive purpose: two full-sized ice bars at separate ends of the route served drinks to folks who really wanted to get into the spirit (or spirits). Additionally, visitors slurped oysters, warmed up with hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows and s’mores over the fire pits, and listened to the bands playing on the Art Bar 2.0 deck stage and Blue Ruin’s plaza stage.
Downtown vendors that remained open late benefited from the crowds drawn to the festival. The Blue Awning did a brisk business while Blackwater Bakery, Vintage 414, and Ava’s Pizzeria packed them in for dinner, drinks and treats.
If festival director Andrea Vernot had a favorite word when talking about the event, it was “amazing.” She gushed that “this is an amazing community” and that “the county and city organizations were amazing.” Praising the quality, caliber and number of sculptures, she emphasized that they were all made in Cambridge.
Also, she pointed out that every vendor was a downtown business or a chamber of commerce member. More than 50 organizations sponsored the event.
“It was beyond our expectations,” said Vernot. She also gave a lot of props to the volunteers, who were also “amazing.”