I didn't realize what a perfect time of year it would be. We happened to be visiting when the annual Ice Festival was happening. I had no clue until just before we left when I logged onto a Shipshewana Facebook Page to see a post about the Ice Festival.
As we pulled into to town, we noticed a big block of ice being carved with a chainsaw outside Yoder's General Store and Hardware Store. It was pretty cool to see one of the ice sculptures being made.
Next door was the Visitors Center, where I picked up a brochure showing each of the spots where the sculptures would appear. There were a couple of snowmen sculpted of ice outside.
There was a big, red structure right next door on the main road that was open on three sides. We went in to check out the sculptures there, which consisted of a full barnyard of ice made animals. There was a big inviting patch of untouched freshly fall snow along side the building and since we've hit a record in Chicagoland for the longest string of days without snow (close to 300 days!), the kids couldn't wait to get their hands on that while stuff. And it was heavy white stuff - perfect for making snowballs.
It was such a lovely scene - the sun starting to set while the kids threw snow around as horse buggies clopped by behind them. It was so peaceful! At least until one of the kids took a big snowball in the face and his nose started bleeding!
Anyway, the ice festival was pretty awesome. Later that day we drove around town a little more to check them out and walked around a little on our way to the Blue Gate Restaurant for dinner. The following day, the commissioned carvings were are lined up in a row near the silos.
The area was still all decorated for the holidays as the festival took place December 27 through 29. The huge tree outside the Blue Gate Restaurant is amazing! Next year if you're looking for a way to wind down after all the holiday excitement, keep the Ice Festival in mind. I've been to the area in both summer and winter and while summer is prime travel time and there's a different variety of outdoor activities, the week following Christmas is a beautiful time to visit!