Annual festival offers hands-on history and winter fun
Each year on the first Saturday in February, Hanford Mills Museum holds an Ice Harvest Festival. Adults and children can take part in a traditional ice harvest using historic tools and techniques. Before refrigeration, cutting ice from frozen ponds and rivers was an essential winter activity. The ice was stored in ice houses until it was needed in the warmer months to keep food and milk cold.
The Ice Harvest Festival, which will be held on February 3 from 10 am to 3 pm, also features ice carving, ice fishing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowman village, hot soup buffet, food trucks, blacksmithing and cooking demonstrations, and exhibits by local businesses and farmers.
The Ice Harvest Festival regularly brings 1,000 or more people to the small hamlet of East Meredith in Delaware County. Starting in December, Museum staff monitors and grooms the ice to ensure a good crop of clear strong ice.
“We have families who come year after year, and are also glad to welcome people coming for the first time. Some people who came as children are now bringing their own children,” says Museum Executive Director Liz Callahan. “Visitors value the opportunity to take part in an authentic experience and to connect with the history of the area.”
The ice harvested at the festival will be used to make ice cream at the Museum’s Independence Day Celebration on July 4.
See the website for more information, hanfordmills.org.
Admission and Information
Children 12 and under receive free admission. Admission for adults and teens is $9; senior admission is $7. 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.
Because GPS may take drivers on roads that are not winter-friendly, the Museum has a list of suggested routes available at http://www.hanfordmills.org/visit-a-historic-workingmill/our-location or by calling 607/278-5744. In particular, when driving from the Albany area on Interstate 88, they recommend taking exit 16 (Emmons/West Davenport) instead of exit 18 or 19.