Above: Lifting a block of ice with ice tongs at the 2015 Ice Harvest. Photo by Rebecca Andre of MGP&D.
Before freezers and refrigerators, harvested ice from local ponds, lakes, and rivers was essential to preserve food through the warmer months.
At its peak in the 19th century, the U.S. ice industry employed about 90,000 people and was a $28 million dollar business, according to Wikipedia.
Today, you can harvest ice the way they did 100 years ago at the Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith, which holds its annual Ice Harvest Festival this Saturday, Feb. 6.
Above: Harvesting ice at the 2015 festival. Photo by Rebecca Andre of MGP&D.
There will be ice fishing, ice-sculpting, blacksmithing and woodstove cookery, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a soup buffet, a snowman village and bonfires. Lunch will be a hot soup buffet featuring soups from over a dozen local restaurants, and local farmers, craftspeople and vendors will sell meat, cheese, coffee, snacks and crafts.
According to the museum’s website, the ice is nine inches thick on the mill pond on Wednesday, strong enough to support people and to be harvested safely. Although conditions may change, the festival will happen no matter the weather, organizers say.
Below: Sleigh rides at the 2015 Ice Harvest Festival. Photo by Rebecca Andre of MGP&D.