Ice harvests were once an essential part of winter in rural communities. Before there was refrigeration, ice was needed to preserve agricultural products and to keep food cold in the warmer months.
Each year on the first Saturday of February, Hanford Mills Museum celebrates this rural tradition with the Ice Harvest Festival. Using historic tools and techniques, visitors can cut and maneuver blocks of ice from the Mill Pond, and then transport the blocks to the ice house by sled. Food, demonstrations, bonfires, and vendors round out a day of hands-on history and winter fun.
The 2017 Ice Harvest Festival offered a variety of indoor and outdoor activities:
- Ice sculpting by the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center Ice Team–blocks of ice were transformed into beautiful works of art.
- Ice fishing, the Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited offered kids the chance to ice fish
- Blacksmith demonstrations
- Horse-drawn sleigh rides
- A hot soup buffet featuring soup from local restaurants
- Cooking demonstrations
- Local farmers and vendors including Byebrook Farm (Gouda cheese), Promisedland Farm (handknit Swedish-style mittens and hats), the Cooperstown Distillery, and Cabana Coffee
- Films of ice harvests in the 1920s-1940s
- Snowman village
- Children (12 and under) receive free admission. Museum members also receive free admission. (More information on admission and discounts.)
The Museum monitors and grooms the ice in the weeks leading up to the Ice Harvest Festival. Find out the latest ice conditions as well as tips for your visit.