---- — Snowy weather and cold temperatures aren’t always welcome sights, but to the organizers of one local event, there’s nothing sweeter.
After unseasonably warm temperatures put a damper on last year’s event, the 2013 Hanford Mills Museum Ice Harvest will benefit from as many low temperatures as Mother Nature can provide over the next few weeks.
The Ice Harvest Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at the museum in East Meredith, featuring turn-of-the-century style events and activities characteristic the 1920s and ‘30s.
“Before refrigeration, here at Hanford Mills and in many rural communities, ice would be harvested and stored until it was needed to keep food cold in the warmer months,” Executive Director Liz Callahan explained in a media release. “Farmers would use the ice to keep milk and other agricultural products cold, and also sell ice.”
Weather permitting, those activities will be re-created during the festival. Children and adults can walk out on the frozen mill pond and help cut blocks of ice using vintage ice saws. The ice will then be hauled by horse-drawn sled and packed in a traditional ice house.
It won’t all be work, however; the festival will also feature horse-drawn sleigh rides, children’s activities, ice hockey on the mill pond featuring the State University College at Oneonta hockey team, and ice fishing demonstrations. The Oneonta World of Learning will offer outdoor activities for children from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and American Indian craft expert Barry Keegan will show visitors how to play the Haudenosaunee game “Snow Snake.”
Area restaurants, including Alfresco’s Italian Bistro, Applebee’s, Autumn Café, Denny’s, Fiesta Mexican Grill, Humphrey’s, Jackie’s Restaurant, Neptune Diner, Simply Thai, Undercover Eggplant and the Yellow Deli, will provide soup for a buffet. Vendors will be selling baked goods, hamburgers and fries, fresh roasted peanuts and maple products as well as hand-knit mittens and hats. The museum’s gift shop will be open, offering mill-made crafts, traditional toys, sweets, books and local products. The ice harvested at the event will be used to make ice cream at the Hanford Mills Independence Day Celebration.
In the Hanford House, which re-creates home life in the 1920s, interpreters will cook candy on a woodstove. There also will be screenings of films showing ice harvests from the 1930s. In addition to warming up with a cup of hot soup, visitors can gather by bonfires.
Callahan said that previous years’ events have attracted more than 1,000 people.
“By February, people are really ready to get out and enjoy a day of winter fun. We call Ice Harvest our coolest tradition,” she said.
Hanford Mills is at 51 County Highway 12. For information, visit www.hanfordmills.org or call 278-5744.