On Saturday, February 1, Hanford Mills Museum will hold the Ice Harvest Festival from 10 am to 4 pm. Visitors can take part in a winter tradition that was essential to rural communities up until the early 20th century. Using vintage tools, children and adults may walk out on the frozen mill pond to cut and maneuver blocks of ice. The goal is to fill the ice house, which can hold approximately seven tons of ice.
In addition to hands-on ice harvesting, the Festival offers horse-drawn sleigh rides, a hot soup buffet, blacksmithing demos, storytelling, and children’s activities. The SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center Ice Team will be making ice sculptures on site. Members of the Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited will show visitors how to ice fish on the mill pond. Guided tours and historic cooking demonstrations will be offered in the John Hanford House, which shows family life in the 1920s. Visitors also can make a snowman in the snowman village, play tabletop games, watch films of ice harvests in the 1930s, and warm up by outdoor fire pits.
“The Festival is an opportunity to experience an ice harvest like those that took place in small towns throughout New York up until the 1930s,” explains Liz Callahan, the Museum’s executive director. “The ice was harvested in the winter, and kept in ice houses until it was needed to keep food cold in the warmer months.” She noted that the ice they harvest will be used in the ice box (the refrigerator’s predecessor) in the John Hanford House, and also to make ice cream at the Museum’s Independence Day Celebration. “The ice keeps until the fall. Sawdust is an excellent insulator, and as a working sawmill, we have plenty.”
“We call Ice Harvest the region’s coolest tradition. There is a great spirit of community as everyone joins together to fill the ice house,” she said. She said that the ice harvesting is wheelchair accessible.
The Hot Soup Buffet includes soups made by: Alfresco’s Italian Bistro, Applebee’s, Autumn Café, Boudreaux 'n' Thibodeaux's, Café Ommegang, Cross Roads Café, Delhi Diner, Denny’s, The Depot Restaurant and Tavern, Doubleday Café, Fiesta Mexican Grill, Jay’s Place, Oneonta Bagel Company, Red Caboose, Simply Thai, and the SUNY Delhi Culinary Program.
Visitors can also shop local, with representatives from Promisedland Farm (hand-knit hats and mittens), Byebrook Farm (Gouda cheese), the Hobart Book Village (books, paper and gift items), and State Line Camping Center (fresh roasted peanuts). The Ate.O.Ate Gourmet Food Truck will be onsite, offering a variety of snack and lunch items. Visitors also can browse Mill-made crafts, traditional toys, books and local products in the Museum Shop.
Some activities weather dependent. Up-to-date information is available at HanfordMills.org.
Children 12 and under receive free admission. Adult admission is $8.50; seniors, $6.50. AAA and other discounts available. Museum members receive free admission. Those living in zip codes (13757, 13739, 13786, 13750, and 13806) neighboring Hanford Mills also receive free admission.
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