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Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum: Winter’s Coolest Tradition

  • Hanford Mills Museum 51 County Highway 12 East Meredith NY United States (map)

Hanford Mills Museum in the Catskills’ East Meredith will hold the 30th anniversary Ice Harvest Festival on Saturday, February 2, 2019. The popular winter event celebrates an activity that was essential before mechanical refrigeration. People would cut ice from frozen ponds and rivers and then store it in ice houses. In the warmer months, the ice would be used to keep food and agricultural products cold. “Ice was viewed as a winter crop by area farmers,” explains Hanford Mills executive director Liz Callahan.


At the Ice Harvest Festival, children and adults can walk out on the frozen mill pond to cut and maneuver blocks of ice using historic tools. The ice blocks are pushed up a ramp and then loaded onto sleds, which are hauled to a traditional ice house. Each year seven to eight tons are harvested.  


“We call Ice Harvest the region’s coolest tradition; it’s a day of winter fun and hands-on history,” says Callahan. “There were 75 people at the first Ice Harvest Festival in 1989, and now we regularly welcome 1,200 or more to the Ice Harvest Festival. It’s an opportunity to embrace winter, enjoy the outdoors, and learn about the past in a unique way.”


Festival features a range of activities

In addition to taking part in the ice harvest, visitors can enjoy the soup buffet which features soup from area restaurants. The Ice Harvest Festival also includes ice carving demonstrations, ice fishing demonstrations and lessons for kids, horse-drawn sleigh rides, blacksmith demonstrations, a snowman village, historic cooking, and local vendors. The ice harvested at the festival will be used to make ice cream at Hanford Mills Museum’s Independence Day Celebration on July 4.


See for more information and updates. The ice must be 8 or more inches deep before the public is allowed on the frozen pond. Because snow acts as an insulator, during the weeks leading up to the Ice Harvest Festival, Museum staff members shovel the pond to ensure there is a good strong crop of ice.    


Admission and Information

Children 12 and under receive free admission. Admission for adults and teens is $9; senior admission is $7. Discounts also available for teachers, first responders, veterans, members of the military, EBT cardholders, and AAA members. Hanford Mills Museum members receive free admission.


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 2019 season on May 15.


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 call607/278-5744.