There is so much to love about The Loop Ice Carnival … the ice carving demonstrations, the ice slide, the ice cubes with dollars inside, the ice breaker (sledgehammer, not the flirty kind) … or, if you’re sick of ice, there are s’mores, hula hoop demos, yo-yo demos, giant non-ice slides, fire-eaters … very best of all, the streets and sidewalks are guaranteed to be ice-free by Saturday (Jan. 16).

As in the previous four years of this classically eclectic event, the shops and eateries along Delmar Boulevard will have deals and special entertainment starting at 11 a.m.  Pick up a map along the way and plan your day. I don’t have a link to the flier, but you can check out the blog for more info on the various events and participating shops at VisitTheLoop.com.

My vote as top attraction this year is for the ice carving at Fitz’s American Grill and Bottling Works. Do go inside — S. and I ate there a few weeks ago, and both of us were impressed (him with the seemingly limitless free root beer a tour will earn you, me with the much-improved quality of the food.)  As an extra bonus, it’s not far to the s’mores station at Craft Alliance!

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The always-creative merchants over in The Loop have locked away 1,000 $1 coins in ice cubes to give away during Saturday’s (Jan. 17) Ice Carnival. Might I suggest you bring a plastic baggie to get your ice cubes home? Given the weather forecast, those cubes likely won’t be melting while you’re outside enjoying the ice carving demonstrations (Fitz’s parking lot, noon to 4 p.m.), the human dogsled race (in front of The Pageant, 3 p.m.), or the Frozen Buns Fun Run (in front of Blueberry Hill, 10 a.m.).

If you’ve already had enough of winter and can’t bear the thought of leaving home for the dubious pleasure of a trip down an ice slide, note that the festival also offers chances to warm up: s’mores roasts, fire barrels, a Putt-Putt Pub Crawl (starting at Cicero’s, noon to 6 p.m.) and, of course, special discounts at merchants between 6100 and 6600 Delmar. The Tivoli is perhaps the best place to warm up for free — it’s showing extreme winter sports movies at 11:30 a.m.

For more information about the movies or any of the other festival events that I haven’t mentioned here (OK, I’ll toss in a few more: the one-month mustache contest, a temporary tattoo scavenger hunt, fire performers from 5 to 7 p.m.), check out The Loop Business Association homepage or call 314.727.8000.

One of my longstanding desires is to visit St. Paul, Minnesota, during its Winter Carnival. This year it’s Jan. 23 to Feb. 3, and once again I won’t make it. I’m getting closer, sort of — we were at the Minnesota State Fair in August, also in St. Paul — and since 99 percent of my husband’s family lives in Minnesota I’m pretty confident that one day I’ll be in the Crystal Courtyard, munching something from the Hot Dish Tent …

The closest I’ll get this winter is The Loop’s Ice Carnival on Saturday, Jan. 19. It’s some consolation that a group of snowboarders from the Great White North will be down to school the locals in their art. Word is snow will be trucked to St. Louis for the event, although I also heard that snow machines would be on hand. Either way, the temps will be right for it!

There are other attractions too — chili cookoff, snoball-throwing booths, ice sculptures, human dogsleds — and there’s a full schedule at The Loop’s homepage.

And now I’ve got to log off and get my own little Abominable Snowman healthy enough so he can participate! Or, at the very least, fed and back down for a nap so I can pay some bills and keep our heat on. 🙂