While the Chautauqua Lake area is often thought of as a summertime destination; it does after all, have a reputation for fishing, boating, camping and other warm-weather activities, it is actually a great destination year-round. Nothing proves this like the annual Mayville I.C.E. & Cool Jazz Festival, which takes place in Mayville, a picturesque village incorporated in 1830 on the western shores of Chautauqua Lake. The festivities take place on President’s Day Weekend, February 17-19.
I.C.E. stands for Ice Castle Extravaganza, referring to the centerpiece of the festival: an ice castle built by volunteers using over 1,700 blocks of ice cut from Chautauqua Lake, weather permitting, of course. It is the southern-most ice castle built in the United States.
Cool Jazz refers to the concerts and other events taking place in Mayville this week, featuring some of the best regional and national Jazz performers around.
The extravaganza, which has evolved into a three-day event, started out as a one day happening in 1987, part of the Chautauqua-Allegany I Love NY Winter Festival. The castle was the dream of the late Donald Hogan, who had directed the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau for 17 years. Mr. Hogan believed that the Chautauqua region should offer visitors activities year-round.
The festival, which takes place in Mayville’s Lakeside Park, offers a variety of events. Even if mother nature doesn’t cooperate and it’s too warm to build the castle, there is still plenty to do, from outdoor activities to live musical concerts.
Get into the mood of the festival with a preview concert featuring international Folk/Blues singer and guitarist Eric Bibb, who will be performing at the Watermark Restaurant on Tuesday February 14 at 8 pm. Mr. Bibb has performed at major Jazz, Blues, and Folk festivals worldwide. Tickets are $15, and seating is limited. (For ticket information contact Mayville Events, 716-753-2800, www.mayvilleevents.com). Jazz fans can also enjoy a Jazz Vespers Service on February 15 at 6 pm at the Hurlbut Church, on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution.
The I.C.E. Festival officially kicks off at 7 pm Friday, February 17th with opening ceremonies and an ice glow of the castle at Lakeside Park. On Saturday, the festival kicks into high gear, with all sorts of events to choose from. This year marks the inaugural I.C.E. Cross Country Ski Tour, which will start at 9:30 am, and travel along the scenic Portage Trail. Participants in this event will be raising funds for the Chautauqua Rails-to Trails. The historic Portage Trail was originally the route the Native Americans took when they portaged their canoes from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua.
Some of the other events scheduled at Lakeside Park include a snowball distance throwing contest, igloo construction demonstrations, a giant kids snow slide, ice skating, snow sculpting, an ice chipping contest, snowshoe demonstrations, snowmobile rides and more.
As night falls on Saturday, bundle up and get ready to enjoy a bonfire, beginning at 5:30 pm, followed by a spectacular fireworks display at 7 pm. End the evening with some cool Jazz, as Chicago Blues master, Corky Siegel, takes the stage at the Chautauqua Lake School Auditorium. Mr. Siegel, a composer, Blues pianist, and singer/songwriter has the reputation as one of the world’s greatest Blues harmonica masters. He has performed as guest soloist with symphony orchestras worldwide. (Tickets are $10. contact Mayville Events 716-753-2800, www.mayvilleevents.com) Starting at 10 pm, there will be Jazz in the Streets, with live Jazz music performed at several restaurants throughout Mayville, including Olive’s, the Watermark, Piper’s Alley, Webb’s, Giambrone’s and Lakeview Hotel. Artists scheduled to perform include Razz and Friends, Steve Davis, Brad Jones and Friends, Carl Hultman Group, and James Madden Trio.
Other events taking place in the Mayville area this weekend includes an icewine tasting at the Portage Hill Gallery (716-326-4478, www.portagehillgallery.com/) 6439 S. Portage Rd., Westfield. Enjoy a free taste of locally produced icewine, while perusing their collection of art from over 200 regional and national artists. They will also have an ice sculpture display in their yard, weather permitting, as well as a display of Saworski Crystal jewelry and glazed pottery inside the gallery. Jazz music will also be played for your listening pleasure at the House on the Hill Gallery, 186 S. Erie St., Mayville (716-753-7800).
Besides the festival events, there are a variety of other activities in the area to enjoy. If you are into snowmobiling, Chautauqua County has over 400 miles of snowmobile trails, making snowmobiling one of the most popular winter pastimes in the county. Keep in mind that one must be registered to operate a snowmobile on public trails in New York State; contact the Mayville Department of Motor Vehicles (716-753-4229) for more information. For information on trails and trail conditions in the Mayville area, contact the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobiling Club (716-753-2924, www.chautauquasnow.com).
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, check out Webb’s Candies (716-753-2161, www.webbscandies.com) 115 West Lake Rd. (NY394), Mayville. Webb’s, in business since 1942, is famous for chocolates, including their trademark goat-milk fudge. Their confections are made by hand, using old-fashioned methods. Along with their candies, their gift shop has many lovely items for sale, including Chautauqua area souvenirs.
Webb’s also offers fine accommodations (716-753-2161, www.webbsworld.com) that includes 52 modern, large hotel rooms, some with Jacuzzi tubs and balconies. Their three-star Captains Table restaurant overlooks Chautauqua Lake and features specialties that include prime rib and fresh seafood.
There are also numerous B & B inns in the area which are open year-round, along with area restaurants offering casual, as well as fine dining. Contact the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau (716-357-4569, www.tourchautauqua.com) for a complete listing.
The Chautauqua Institution (716-357-6200, www.ciweb.org) is located just a few miles down the road from Mayville. Since it is the off-season, there is no gate fee to enter the grounds. The Chautauqua Bookstore is a great place to spend a winter afternoon. (716-357-2151, open daily, 9-5:30 year-round). The Institution offers horse-drawn sleigh rides on Saturday and Sunday from 1-3:30 pm during the months of January and February. Tickets are $2/adults, $1/child and can be purchased at the Chautauqua Bookstore.
If you like skiing or snowboarding, Peak N’ Peak Ski Resort (716-355-4141, www.pknpk.com ) is a short distance away in Clymer, just south of Findley Lake. You don’t have to wait for warm weather to enjoy a visit to the Chautauqua Lake area.
For more information on the area contact:
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau (716-357-4569, www.tourchautauqua.com) or visit them at the Main Gate of the Chautauqua Institution, open 9-5 daily, year-round.
Mayville Chamber of Commerce (753-3113, www.mayville-chautauquachamber.org)
Mayville Events (716-753-2800, www.mayvilleevents.com)
Directions From the Buffalo area, take the New York State Thruway south to exit #60, Westfield. Follow Route 394 east to the Village of Mayville.