AVON - Scott Rella does the best multi-task in our spiral arm of the universe.At this weekend's Fire & Ice he'll be lighting Colorado's first ice bonfire, which is exactly what it sounds like. They create a massive barrel made of ice, then they burn stuff in it. It's seriously cool and seriously hot, sort of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie of ice sculpting.Rella runs Icesculpture.com. He's doing much of the heavy lifting to put Fire & Ice together - in all his spare time. He started the first ice sculpting company in the U.S. 25 years ago. It's also the biggest. He sold it and moved to the Vail Valley, but the man doesn't have a natural aptitude for leisure.He started Aspen/Vail Ice and at the same time Fear No Ice, a performance art ice sculpting company. They're a little like the Blue Man Group, but white with goggles and power tools."I sculpt ice all over the world," Rella said.This week he's been sticking close to home, sculpting massive blocks of ice into things like Thor, Captain America and anything else he can conceive. The man is busy, and busy is good.When we caught up with him he had America's Got Talent on the other line. They start shooting for the show in New York City in April.And he's the proud father of a baby girl.So in all his spare time last summer he launched icesculpture.com. It's a clearinghouse for some of the world's top ice sculptors. They're in 40 cities so far and will soon be in 20 more."We have the best ones in every city," Rella said. "It's world class."It helps that they know each other.So it wasn't complicated to put together this weekend's competitors. Some of the best will be in Avon's Nottingham Park and in Beaver Creek at this weekend's ice sculpting competition and exhibitions."These are all my friends," he said.Some friends felt a little left out and they let Rella know about it, as friends would."My phone's been ringing off the hook with friends asking, 'Why wasn't I invited?' I tell them, 'Next year.'"Which means he plans to make Fire & Ice an annual event, he said.
Richard Bubin's background is fairly typical for people in this business. He started as a bus boy, a fry cook, a waiter and a chef. He carved fruits veggies, cheese, and eventually a buddy wanted him to do an ice sculpture for a banquet. He started doing competitions and winning.He just passed his 30th year. In Avon look for lots of interactive things for the kids as they create ice souvenirs."The live shows and entertainment are what I really enjoy," Bubin said.He can fire a 360 degree stream of snow at the crowd."It's like a Gallagher show with a chainsaw," Bubin said.Ice is a fleeting medium. He did a piece in Vermont and they hit a couple 60 degree days and it was gone."That's the way it is with Mother Nature. But when Mother Nature does what she does, I can make another one," Bubin said.And it's job security."If all the thousands of ice sculptures I've done were still up, I'd be out of a job," Bubin said.
The weekend runs like this:Saturday afternoon all the ice sculptors will be in Beaver Creek for an exhibition as part of the Beav's Prezfest."Our original idea was to bring in six world class sculptors and have them create something live on Saturday at Beaver Creek," Rella said. "We took it a few steps further. Rich Purkiss and I have designed and pre-sculpted a lot of the ice. The result is simply a lot more ice then any individual could create in a four-hour period. We're giving Beaver Creek a lot more than what they asked for."Sunday afternoon is the Masters Ice Invitational Competition. Each sculptor will have three blocks of ice and three hours to complete their piece. Rella is doing Captain America. Rich Bubin is creating Elvis with a guitar.You get to pick the winners of the ice sculpting competition and the champ gets the Peoples' Choice Award. The bonfire follows at 6 p.m.A half hour after that the fireworks start and stuff blows up. It's a 10,000-shell fireworks show, the largest winter display in the Rockies.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.