Winter Activity Guide

Pulling a sled with an ice block to the Ice House

Welcome! Since the Ice Harvest Festival has gone virtual this year, this guide includes activities that you can do as a family/group at home. Some of the activities will give you a chance to talk to and work with a partner or your whole family/group. Some of these activities also involve going outside, so be sure to bring someone with you and ask someone for help with anything you’re unsure about or need help with. Read through this page, and when you’re ready to start, you can print this worksheet.

  1. Find evidence of animal life. Can you see or hear an animal? Can you find tracks or other evidence that an animal has walked past?

2. What plant life can you find? You can find plants that are still growing (tree, bush, grass) and items that are not, like leaves, acorns, and sticks. Can you find at least three different plants? 

3. Make your own tracks in the snow! Leave handprints or footprints in the snow, or use a stick or your fingers to draw out animal tracks. What other ways can you make markings or art in the snow?

4. Locate your favorite item you use outdoors. This could be clothing, such as a winter hat or mittens, or a sled for riding down snowy hills.

5. Search for these four different things that happen because of cold weather: 

  • Cold Noses
  • Your own breath
  • Snowflakes 
  • What else can you find that is affected by the cold?

6. Find water in one of its three forms: liquid (water), solid (ice), or gas (water vapor in the air). As a challenge, find all three!

7. Find 10 colors! Look around and find at least 10 different colors around you.

8. Ask your partner what item reminds them of when they were younger. Can they find something in the house or a picture that reminds them of that item?

blueberry muffins

9. Find an item that reminds you of your partner: something they wear, something they make, or anything that makes you think of them!

10. Make your own tracks on paper! You can use colored pencils, markers, paint, or cut out shapes with scissors. Try making at least three different kinds of tracks.

You can learn about animal tracks in winter from this guide from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

11. What tools do you use at home? At Hanford Mills Museum we use a variety of different tools to harvest and transport ice. The photos below show some of these tools. We also use tools like measuring tapes and hammers.

Think about the different tools that are around your home. What do you use them for? Find three different tools with your partner, and talk about what the tools are and how they are used.

Tools We Use at the Ice Harvest:

Have fun discovering these items and talking about them! We hope to see you next year at the Ice Harvest Festival!

More things to try!

  • Find out how to make a model ice house, with templates and instructions.
  • You can make your own small batch of ice cream using this recipe. We make much larger batches of ice cream on July 4 at our Independence Day Celebration. The ice we harvest from the Mill pond chills the cream to make it into ice cream.
  •  Do you know that salt interacts with water in some interesting ways? You can learn more about salt and water with this experiment.
  • This winter we have plenty of snow on the ground in East Meredith. You can also design and make your own snowflakes to decorate inside. Here is one way to make them

Ice Harvest Festival exhibitors and restaurants

Though the 2021 Ice Harvest Festival is virtual, we encourage you to support the exhibitors who have come to past Ice Harvests as well as the restaurants that have donated soup, rolls and cookies for the Ice Harvest soup buffet.

Bakers Grimm in the heated exhibitor tent at the Ice Harvest Festival in February 2020.

Support local! We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2022.

  • Byebrook Farm (farmstead Gouda cheese),
  • Blue Merle Apiaries (honey and honey beeswax skin cream),
  • Bakers Grimm (baked goods),
  • the Cooperstown Distillery (handcrafted spirits and cider),
  • Catharina’s Hats and Mittens (handknit Swedish-style accessories),
  • Kortright Handiworks (local wool and hats),
  • the Catskill Forest Association (information and apple tree pruning demos),
  • My Woodlot/Watershed Agricultural Council (animal track exhibit)
  • The Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited (ice fishing demos and fishing information)
  • The A.J. Read Science Discovery Center (hands-on STEM activities for kids)

Hot Soup Buffet

For the February 2020 Ice Harvest Festival, restaurants providing soup included: 

The Cooperstown Distillery at the Ice Harvest Festival in February 2020.

Ice Harvest Festival offers history on ice and day of winter fun

Hanford Mills Museum logo


CONTACT: Liz Callahan 607/278-5744, [email protected]

Ice Harvest Festival
February 4, 10 am – 4 pm
Hanford Mills Museum
51 County Hwy 12, East Meredith, NY
[email protected]

Take part in a traditional ice harvest, just as communities did a century ago. Festival also includes ice carving by the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center Ice Team, ice fishing with Trout Unlimited, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowman village, hot soup buffet, food trucks, blacksmithing and cooking demonstrations, and exhibits by local businesses and farmers. Kids 12 and under get in free; Adults and Teens, $9; Seniors, $7.

Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum: History on Ice!

[January 27, 2017 East Meredith, NY] The annual Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum on Saturday, February 4th offers adults and children a chance to take part in a traditional ice harvest using historic tools and techniques. Before refrigeration, harvesting ice was an essential winter activity. The ice was stored in ice houses until it was needed in the warmer months to keep food and agricultural products cold.

“Kids can cut ice, haul ice, help stack the ice, and get a ride on a horse-drawn sled.  It is very different from reading about things in a book; it is real.  Of course, the cocoa and soup are always big hits, too,” says Jack Tessier, a board member of Hanford Mills who has attended several Ice Harvests with his wife and children.

Festival also offers Ice Sculpting, Ice Fishing, Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides, Hot Soup Buffet, Local Farmers, and More

The SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center Ice Team will create sculptures from blocks of ice. Children can try out ice fishing with the help of volunteers from the Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Other activities include taking horse-drawn sleigh rides around the Museum site, watching blacksmith demonstrations, shopping from local farmers and businesses, including Promisedland Farm, Byebrook Farm, and the Cooperstown Distillery. There also will be a snowman village, bonfires, and films of ice harvests in the 1920s-1940s. At the Hanford House, which shows family life in the 1920s, visitors can play tabletop games and see historic cooking demonstrations.

There will be an auction of the Werner Rentsch painting “Ice Cutting at Hanford Mills NY,” which the noted artist made after attending an Ice Harvest Festival a few years ago. The artist donated the painting for the Museum to use to raise funds. Bidding is now available online at

The Ice Harvest Festival, which is always held on the first Saturday in February, regularly brings 1,000 or more people to the small hamlet of East Meredith in Delaware County. Starting in December, Museum staff monitor and groom 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. “People value the opportunity to take part in an authentic experience and to connect with the history of the area.”

A hot soup buffet will feature soup and chili provided by area restaurants, including Brooks’ House of BBQ, Cafe Ommegang, the Cooperstown Diner, Cross Roads Cafe, Danny’s Main Street Market, the Delhi Diner, Doubleday Cafe, Fiesta Mexican Grill, Jackie’s Restaurant, Jay’s Place, Mel’s at 22, Morey’s Family Restaurant,  Oneonta Bagel Company, The Otesaga, Simply Thai,  Sloan’s N.Y. Grill, Signatures Restaurant, the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Program, Applebee’s, and Denny’s. . Proceeds from the soup buffet as well as the sale of baked goods, which are provided by Junkyard Bakehaus, benefit the Museum’s educational programs. In addition, the Cabana Coffee food truck will offer hot and cold beverages.

The Ice Harvest Festival shows “how things can be done without modern fuels,” explains Tessier. “People were able to meet their needs through knowledge of their local environment, and we will need that knowledge in the future. The fact that Hanford Mills Museum can provide that knowledge in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere makes the event that much more special.”

The Ice Harvest Festival is sponsored by the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Management Department, WSKG, The Daily Star, and Five Star Subaru.

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,

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 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.

About Hanford Mills Museum

Hanford Mills Museum operates an authentic water- and steam-powered historic site, which includes a sawmill, gristmill and woodworking shop. The mission of Hanford Mills Museum is to inspire audiences of all ages to explore connections among energy, technology, natural resources and entrepreneurship in rural communities with a focus on sustainable choices. The museum, which is listed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places, will open for the 2017 season on May 17.

Hanford Mills is located at 51 County Highway 12 in East Meredith, at the intersection of Delaware County Routes 10 & 12, just 10 miles from Oneonta, and 15 miles from Delhi.  For more information, visit or call 607-278-5744.


For more information, please contact:  Liz Callahan, Executive Director, Hanford Mills Museum, 607/278-5744, [email protected]

For photos, please contact Peg Odell, [email protected]

B-roll of past Ice Harvest Festivals available at: