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2019-02-06 / Front Page

More Than 1,000 Visitors Flock To Ice Harvest At Hanford Mills

By Rosie Cunningham


Lucas Novko (left), Nathaniel Francisco (center) and Steven Kellogg (right) conduct blacksmith demonstrations on Saturday. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter Lucas Novko (left), Nathaniel Francisco (center) and Steven Kellogg (right) conduct blacksmith demonstrations on Saturday. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter EAST MEREDITH -About 1,400 visitors turned out on Saturday for the 30th anniversary of the annual Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills in East Meredith.

The annual event, first held in 1989, featured a variety of soups, blacksmithing demo nstrations, hors e- drawn rides, ice harvesting and fishing, according to Peg Odell, communicat ions coordinator at Hanford Mills Museum.

The brisk weather didn’t deter visitors, according to Odell.

“The sun is out and it’s only supposed to get warmer and warmer as the day goes on,” said Odell mid-morning.

She said some of the highlights included students from SUNY Delhi’s culinary arts program demonstrating how to create ice sculptures.

“Soup from 25 different restaurants, Cabana Coffee and Byebrooke Gouda Cheese is available,” said Odell. “Karina’s hats and mittens is here as well - she may be doing some good business today.”


Volunteers Karl Wietzel (left) and Lorene Sugars show visitors how to harvest ice out of the pond at Hanford Mills. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter Volunteers Karl Wietzel (left) and Lorene Sugars show visitors how to harvest ice out of the pond at Hanford Mills. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter Steve Kellogg, a professional blacksmith, has been doing blacksmith demonstrations at Hanford Mills for eight years.

Onlookers eagerly asked questions as he worked with fire and steel.

He said he has been a professional blacksmith for about 20 years and he said it is something he thoroughly enjoys.

“It lets you understand periods of history because you can walk through other peoples shoes by creating tools of the past,” he said.

Julia Gaffney, a SUNY Delhi culinary student, wielded a chainsaw and created ice sculptures. The program also brought some of Gaffney’s existing creations to Hanford Mills for visitors to view.


Julia Gaffney, a SUNY Delhi culinary student, wielded a chainsaw and created ice sculptures on-site. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter Julia Gaffney, a SUNY Delhi culinary student, wielded a chainsaw and created ice sculptures on-site. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter SUNY Delhi Dean of Business and Hospitality David Brower, was at Hanford Mills with four students who took part in the demonstrations.

“This is our sixth year being involved,” he said. “We have a dedicated sculpting class and a sculpting laboratory the students utilize.”

Brower explained that one ice sculpture takes up to three hours to create, depending on its complexity. The students start with a template - manually drawn out or projected onto a wall which is attached to an ice block and with water - the image is frozen onto the surface before the chainsaws make quick work of the ice.

“Each block of ice used is 350 pounds and takes about three days to make - they are crystal clear,” he said.


Hanford Mills during the 30th Ice Harvest Festival Saturday. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter Hanford Mills during the 30th Ice Harvest Festival Saturday. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter SUNY Delhi has a machine that allows the blocks of ice to be bubble- and imperfection-free.

According to Hanford Mill’s Executive Director Liz Callahan in a past interview, ice was originally harvested as a crop by farmers.

The pond at Hanford Mills is carefully groomed in the months leading up to the festival, Callahan said. Museum staff members keep the pond’s frozen surface clear of snow, which acts as an insulator and prevents the ice from properly solidifying.

The ice is cut with vertical strokes of a four-foot, doubleedged saw blade into 75-pound blocks. Once fully cleaved from the surface of the pond, the ice blocks float like cubes in a glass, prodded along by volunteers wielding long, wooden-handled metal hooks to the submerged base of a 14-foot wooden ramp.

The ice will be used to make ice cream in a steam-powered churn for the museum’s Independence Day celebration.

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