The Region’s Coolest Tradition
Held each year on the first Saturday in February
February 4, 2017, 10 am – 4 pm
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.
The Ice Harvest Festival includes a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, ice sculpting (by the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center Ice Team) and blacksmithing demonstrations, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a hot soup buffet featuring soup from local restaurants, bonfires, cooking demonstrations, local farmers and vendors, films of ice harvests in the 1920s-1940s, a snowman village, and more. It’s a wonderful day of hands-on history and winter fun.
Children (12 and under) receive free admission. Museum members also receive free admission. (More information on admission and discounts.)
- Did you know? The ice we harvest will be used to make ice cream at the Hanford Mills Museum Independence Day Celebration. The 2016 Ice Harvest Festival was held on February 6. Despite a warmer than usual winter, the ice on the pond was 7.5 inches thick. Hanford Mills Museum staff and experienced volunteers were on the ice, cutting and maneuvering ice blocks, and visitors were able to help transfer the ice blocks to the ice house. About five tons of ice are now packed in the ice house, insulated with sawdust.
Hot Soup Buffet, Food Trucks, and Local Farmers and Businesses
The Hot Soup Buffet is a favorite way for visitors to warm up during Ice Harvest. At the 2016 festival, soup was donated by the Autumn Café, Otesaga Resort Hotel, Red Caboose Restaurant & Bar, Oneonta Bagel Company, SUNY Delhi Hospitality Program, Denny’s, Alfresco’s Italian Bistro, The Depot Restaurant and Tavern, Jay’s Place, Sloan’s New York Grill, Jackie’s Restaurant, Doubleday Cafe, Cafe Ommegang, Cross Roads Cafe, Delhi Diner, Meredith Inn, Brooks’ House of BBQ, Fiesta Mexican Grill, Danny’s Market, Cooperstown Diner, Toscana Northern Italian Grill, Cantina de Salsa, Bella Michael’s Restaurant, Blue Bee Cafe, Humphrey’s, Applebee’s, the Tulip and the Rose Cafe, Mel’s at 22, and Plaza Diner. Proceeds from the soup buffet and cookie sale (baked goods provided by Junkyard Bakehaus) benefited the Museum’s educational programs.
Local businesses and farmers at the 2016 Ice Harvest Festival were Byebrook Farm (cheese), Cooperstown Distillery, Promisedland Farm (wool hats and mittens), the Ate.o.Ate Food Truck, and Cabana Coffee.
Ice Harvest in the News
- Beekman 1802 Almanac “The Ice Harvest” article in the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of this new magazine highlighted the Beekman Boys’ visit to the Ice Harvest Festival, with 18 photos. “Winter isn’t known for its bountiful harvests, except for one thing–ice. In East Meredith, New York, Brent and Josh made ice the old-fashioned way: slicing it from a frozen pond…” Though the magazine is not available online, The Beekman Boys (Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge) also wrote about their trip to Hanford Mills Museum on their blog: A February Harvest
- Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin article “Take Your Kids on a ‘Frozen’ Adventure: Museum’s annual ice harvest is a cool family attraction“ ran on February 1, 2015. “Kids and parents can recreate the magic of the opening scene from ‘Frozen’ by joining in on an authentic ice harvest on frozen mill pond — sing-alongs welcome…”
- The Daily Star (Oneonta) article on January 30, 2015 “Delhi Students to show off hand-hewn ice sculptures” talks about the ice carving demonstrations at the Ice Harvest Festival.
- The Wall Street Journal featured the Ice Harvest Festival in the December 13, 2014 article Snow Balls: Five Winter Festivals Worth the Trip.
- Listen to Executive Director Liz Callahan’s 1/30/15 interview on WAMC’s The Roundtable.
- The 2013 Ice Harvest was featured in the first episode of SUNY Oneonta’s Community Spotlight.
- Read about past Ice Harvests at Hanford Mills Museum, which have had more than 1,200 people attend, at All Over Albany, The Mountain Eagle, and The Daily Star.
- See photos from the 2014 Ice Harvest
“It’s such a slice of Americana. It’s why we love living up here. It’s a beautiful community event.”
-Teri Borst, who attended Ice Harvest in 2013
This video by Delaware County Tourism show highlights from the 2013 Ice Harvest. Editing by Jessica Vecchione, owner of Vecc Videography in Hamden.