SCULPT — Ice sculptures are crafted in Artist Alley in downtown Kokomo during a previous year’s Fire and Ice event. This Friday, sculptors will create new works of art at the corner of Mulberry and Main streets during First Friday.  
Herald Photo / File
SCULPT — Ice sculptures are crafted in Artist Alley in downtown Kokomo during a previous year’s Fire and Ice event. This Friday, sculptors will create new works of art at the corner of Mulberry and Main streets during First Friday. Herald Photo / File

First Friday presents Fire and Ice this Friday, Feb. 2. The night will hold two main events, a chili cook-off (fire) and an ice sculpture demonstration (ice). 

In addition to the main events, several other venues in the greater downtown area will open their doors to the public to celebrate new business openings, music, dance, and Black History Month.

“First Friday happens every first Friday of every month. Nobody has to guess if we are doing it. We always have safe, warm spaces inside. People can pop in, warm up, and have a reason to walk around and get out. Kokomoans are tough. We don’t want to have to wait for May to go out and do something,” said Susan Alexander, manager of downtown initiatives for the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance.

First Friday has grown tremendously over the last five years, adding new themes and revisiting favorites throughout the year. Alexander said the night began with two vendors and now boasts more than 50 participants in the monthly event. 

For February, she said she and other organizers built the night on how much people in the area like chili, so the K-Town Chili Throwdown was born.

First Friday visitors can walk to different vendors and businesses to taste and vote for their favorite chili. Seventeen groups have entered the competition, with Bohemian Tattoo looking to reclaim its title.

“People around here like chili. We also love the idea of going from venue to venue, popping in to get warm. We always say, ‘The party is in the venue.’ What better reason to go from place to place downtown? It’s a time that our business owners, venues, and area chefs can exhibit their amazing talents in this contest,” Alexander said. “Awards will be given for Judge’s Choice, People’s Choice, and People’s Choice Showmanship. Not only do they need good chili, but they need to have a good presentation.”

Entries for the throwdown include Bohemian Tattoo Club’s Ancho Chili; Kokomo Toys & Collectibles’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Mutagen Green Chili; LeaderOne Financial's 12 Second Chili and Chili 202: Get Schooled on White Chicken Chili; Bind Café’s Fasoolia (Lebanese Chili); Marble The Steakhouse’s Steakhouse Chili; Kokomo Downtown Farmers’ Market’s Market Harvest Pumpkin Chili; Gingerbread House Bakery’s Chocolate Chili; Wings Etc.’s Loaded Chili; Girls Scout Troop 04172’s Cookies with That? Chili; Beauty Bar Downtown’s Sweet Chili of Mine; Cobalt Charm’s Charmed Chili; KBC Lady Knights Softball’s Homerun Chili; We Love Firefighters Local 396’s Fireman Scott’s Golden Pork Chili and Fireman Mike’s Tex-Mex Chili; Artworks Gallery’s Work of Art Chili; and Kingdom Cards & Games’ Royal Chili.

All People’s Choice votes must be turned in at the First Friday kiosk by 8 p.m. 

The ice sculpture demonstration will be provided by Indiana Art Studio and will take place at Rain Garden Plaza at the intersection of Main and Mulberry streets.

“It is amazing to see the whole process. They start with a large piece of ice. We don’t know what it will turn out to be. They come up with the design. If you haven’t seen it from start to finish, the process is spectacular, especially near the end when they smooth the ice for the finished product,” said Alexander.

In addition, Mackenzie Lee Photography will have an official ribbon cutting to celebrate her new downtown studio. Main Street Cafe is hosting Rhum Academy students, and the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library will kick off Black History month by examining the rich history and influence of early Black Americans on music.