Coolest thing at the fair

You wouldn't think on a day like Saturday, with the sun beating down and the blacktop baking feet from below, that people at the Orange County Fair would consider anything too cold.

But that's what you get after spending just a few minutes inside the Ice Museum, by far the fair's coolest attraction.

Lined with 300-pound blocks of ice, the 25-foot-by-25-foot trailer holds ice sculptures of classic artwork, from the Thinking Man, the Mona Lisa to a Chinese dragon and King Tut.

"It feels good after being outside all day," said Melinda Vencill, from Costa Mesa. The cold air – about 15 degrees – keeps the lines fairly short, about 15 to 20 people, as groups hustle in and out of the giant freezer.

Parkas are available for people inside the museum.

"Some of it reminded us of 'Night at the Museum,'" said Jennifer Braun from Pasadena, who saw the museum previewed on TV and came with her husband and kids.

Ice sculptor and owner of Anaheim-based Carving Ice Roland Hernandez, who brought the museum to the fair, said recreating classic works was both a bigger challenge but also brought bigger reactions from the audience.

"Their whole expression is different," he said. "If kids look at the Thinking Man, they might not think it's a big deal. But when they see it in ice, they come to life."

The public's standards are higher too, because they know what the artwork should look like, he said.

So Hernandez works meticulously, taking between two and four days for some sculptures. Throughout the fair he'll add more works. He should have the Birth of Venus completed today, he said.

Fair officials said they have to defrost the room every three to four hours but keep the freezers on all day and night. Figures on exactly how much it costs in energy bills for the fair were not immediately available.

The Ice Museum will be open during regular hours through the whole fair.

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