Programs At Hanford Mills Museum

Ice Harvest Festival

The Ice Harvest Festival is held the first Saturday in FebruaryThe Region’s Coolest Tradition

Held each year on the first Saturday in February
February 1, 2020, 10 am – 3 pm

Come enjoy a day of hands-on history and winter fun.

Lots of teamwork on display as everyone works together to fill the ice house. Photo: Kevin Q Gray

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. 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. At the 2019 Ice Harvest, visitors could:

  • watch the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center Ice Team transform blocks of ice into beautiful works of art
  • ice fish with volunteers from the Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited (This activity is for children. Equipment provided)
  • take a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the Museum grounds
  • see blacksmith demonstrations (pro tip: it’s warm by the forge!)
  • warm up at the hot soup buffet featuring soup from local restaurants
  • gather by bonfires
  • browse and shop from local farmers and vendors including Byebrook Farm (Farmstead Gouda cheese), Catharina’s Hats and Mittens (handknit Swedish-style mittens and hats),  Cabana Coffee (lattes, hot chocolate and coffee), and the Cooperstown Distillery (handcrafted spirits).
  • make a sketch with the Catskill Interpretive Center’s new Catskill Art Club (supplies provided or bring your own).
  • tour the Museum’s advanced pellet boiler and district heating system and learn about clean heating and cooling technologies from Heat Smart Otsego.
  • stop by the John Hanford Farmhouse to see how folks lived in the 1920s, and see how they baked bread and cookies using the Royal Bride wood-fired stove.
  • watch films of ice harvests in the 1920s-1940s

Photo by Jessica Vecchione

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.

Hot Soup BuffetIce Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum

The Hot Soup Buffet is a delicious way for visitors to warm up during Ice Harvest. Restaurants that donated soup and chili in 2019 were: Alex’s Bistro,  Alfresco’s Italian Bistro, Applebee’s, Autumn Cafe, Blue Bee Cafe, Brooks House of BBQ, Cafe Ommegang,  College Association of Delhi Inc. (CADI)Cooperstown DinerCross Roads Cafe, Danny’s Market,  Delhi Diner, Denny’s, Fiesta Mexican Grill & Cantina, Green Earth Cafe, Jackie’s Restaurant, Jay’s PlaceMel’s at 22Morey’s Family Restaurant, Oneonta Bagel Company,  the Otesaga, Signatures RestaurantSimply Thai, Sloan’s New York Grill, and SUNY Delhi Hospitality Program.

Proceeds from the soup buffet and cookie sale (baked goods provided by Junkyard Bakehaus) benefit the Museum’s educational programs.


The Ice Harvest Festival is sponsored by the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Management DepartmentThe Daily StarWSKG. 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

“It’s such a slice of Americana. It’s why we love living up here. It’s a beautiful community event.”
-Teri Borst

ice sawing collage

Thank you to Q. Cassetti for designing the Ice Harvest Festival logo.