Come enjoy a day of hands-on history and winter fun.
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 also features ice sculpting and ice fishing, a hot soup buffet, bonfires, and exhibits by local farmers and businesses.
The 2018 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 with volunteers from the Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited
- horse-drawn sleigh rides
- blacksmith demonstrations
- a hot soup buffet featuring soup from local restaurants
- 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
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 more about ice conditions, and tips for your Ice Harvest visit.
The Hot Soup Buffet is a delicious way for visitors to warm up during Ice Harvest. Restaurants that donated soup and chili at teh 2018 Ice Harvest Festival were: Alex’s Bistro, Alfresco’s Italian Bistro, Applebee’s, Autumn Cafe, B-Side Ballroom, Blue Bee Cafe, Brook’s House of BBQ, Cafe Ommegang, College Association of Delhi Inc. (CADI), the Cooperstown Diner, Cross Roads Cafe, Delhi Diner, Denny’s, Depot Restaurant & Tavern, Doubleday Cafe, Jackie’s Restaurant, Jay’s Place, Lucky Dog Cafe, Mel’s at 22, Morey’s Family Restaurant, the Otesaga, Signatures Restaurant, Simply Thai, Sloan’s NY Grill, the Tulip and the Rose Cafe, TK’s Diner, and Undercover Eggplant. Rolls generously provided by CADI.
Proceeds from the soup buffet and cookie sale (baked goods provided by Junkyard Bakehaus) benefited the Museum’s educational programs.
The Ice Harvest Festival was sponsored by the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Management Department, The Daily Star, WSKG. and Five Star Subaru. Hanford Mills Museum is very grateful for their generous support.
Did you know? The ice we harvest will be used to make ice cream at the Hanford Mills Museum Independence Day Celebration.
Ice Harvest in the News
- TripAdvisor review of 2018 Ice Harvest: Ice Harvest Festival…So Worth It!!
- NewYorkUpstate.com “Hanford Mills Museum preserves traditions at annual Ice Harvest Festival“
- WAMC Museum executive director Liz Callahan chats with The Roundtable host Joe Donahue about the 2018 Ice Harvest Festival
- The Albany Times Union PilotGirl blog featured the article “Cold Weather Cures for Cabin Fever”
- The Wall Street Journal featured the Ice Harvest Festival in the article Snow Balls: Five Winter Festivals Worth the Trip.
- Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin article “Take Your Kids on a ‘Frozen’ Adventure: Museum’s annual ice harvest is a cool family attraction“ “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…”
- Beekman 1802 Almanac “The Ice Harvest” 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:
- The Daily Star (Oneonta) article “Delhi Students to show off hand-hewn ice sculptures” talks about the ice carving demonstrations at the Ice Harvest Festival.
- See photos from past Ice Harvests