Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum
Looking for a unique winter event? The Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum is held on the first Saturday of February (February 3 for 2018), 10 am to 4 pm. The Festival celebrates a winter activity that was essential in the years before refrigeration. In rural communities across New York, ice was cut from ponds and rivers and then stored until it was needed to keep food and agricultural products cold in the warmer months.
At the Ice Harvest Festival, children and adults can walk out on the frozen mill pond to cut and maneuver blocks of ice using historic tools. The ice blocks are pushed up a ramp and then loaded onto sleds, which are hauled to a traditional ice house. The Museum has a supply of ice cleats that visitors can borrow to make walking on the frozen pond easier.
“We call Ice Harvest the region’s coolest tradition; it’s a day of winter fun and hands-on history,” says Museum executive director Liz Callahan. She said about 7-8 tons of ice will be cut from the pond and packed with sawdust in the ice house. “There is a great spirit of community as everyone works together harvesting ice, and then warms up with delicious soup.” She noted that the Ice Harvest Festival often attracts more than 1,000 people. “It’s very family-friendly, people appreciate the opportunity to embrace winter, enjoy the outdoors, and learn about the past in a unique way.”
Children 12 and under are free. Adults and teens, $9; seniors, $7. Museum members free. Hanfordmills.org 607/278-5744