This year's Ice Wine Blues event will definitely be bigger and better than ever. Not only will the ice carvings be bigger, but this year in addition to being able to taste specialty wines from around Michigan and the world will be the ability to taste craft beers from two local breweries.

International ice carver extraordinaire John Merucci this year will be creating from 16-20 blocks of ice four sculptures in Downtown Marshall locations, each being over 6 feet tall. This year's sculptures will have a Mardi Gras theme. This event would not be possible without the sponsorships from Chemical Bank, Oaklawn Hospital, Southern Michigan Bank and Trust, Calhoun County Visitor and Convention Bureau, HCB Marshall Banking Center, and FUG Screen Printing and Embroidery.

On Friday, February 5th wine and beer tasting will begin at 6 p.m. at ten downtown businesses locations and will continue until 10 p.m. Individuals over 21 will be able to purchase a wristband for $20 and receive 10 wine/beer tastings. Businesses offering tastings include Handle & Hinge, Mole Hole, Vint-Edge, Pure Eden, Quality Engraving, Green Scene, Hodges Jewelers, EastEnd Studio and Gallery, paper & i, and Trailblazers.

In addition, pottery goblets will be available for $10 each beginning on Wed. and Thursday, Feb. 3 & 4 at: The Plaid Herb, Bayberry House Interiors and Oerther’s. Goblets will also be available on Feb. 5 at select locations. Goblets are once again being made by EastEnd artist, Romelle Frey. Various styles and color glazes make this a high point of the event.

Ice carvings will continue on Saturday, February 6 at 10 a.m. until completed. Several Downtown merchants will be serving “Specialty Meatballs” and “Sweets” from 11:00-3:00 on Saturday. The Franke Center for the Arts then will host its annual Winter Blues Festival Saturday evening starting at 5 p.m. with Acoustic Blues Downstage with beer/wine/BBQ dinner available for purchase.

For more information on this weekend, visit www.frankecenterforthearts.org. Ice Wine and Blues is a fundraiser for The Franke Center for the Arts and MAEDA.