Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ice Harvesting Fest at Arrow Park, Sunday, February 19, 11-3PM

On Sunday, February 19, 11-3PM, we¹ll go out on the ice at the lake in Arrow Park at 1061 Orange County Turnpike in Monroe, NY and harvest blocks of ice, said Dr. Robert Schmick, Museum Director at Museum Village. The event, hosted by Museum Village and Arrow Park, will also have representation from the Orange County Council of Arts, local artists, and local farmers.

This will be the first time many of us from Museum Village and our community have done such a thing, so it is intended to be informal and experimental rather than a thoroughly historical re- enactment of something that was commonplace and necessary more than 60 years ago in the Hudson Valley. By demonstrating such early technologies, in this case hand tool harvesting, we hope to demonstrate for young minds and recall to older ones how rural America lived off the land, said Dr. Schmick.

Using authentic harvesting tools like a 54 inch long two-handed saw, from Museum Village's collection, we will cut blocks of ice and ceremoniously transport them on a large wooden sled, brought all the way from Maine for the purpose, up the hill to a large ice house still preserved at Arrow Park. The Park will be open next spring/summer for swimming, fishing, special and community events, lodging and hiking. At the beginning of the 19th century, ice harvesting was the seventh largest industry in the United States. The Hudson and nearby Greenwood Lake were sites for large commercial harvesting. Arrow Park Lake was also routinely harvested.

Every dairy farm in the area undertook this winter chore to keep their milk from spoiling, and everyone had blocks delivered regularly to their homes for their ice boxes before electricity was available, and that was as late as the 1940s in some places. My great aunt recalled how my great grandfather harvested ice in Pine Island for his dairy, and the neighbors would show up to help him back in the 1930s. This is a dynamic we want to re-create; people coming together ang engaging in a common task drawn from our agricultural heritage, said Dr. Schmick. We especially welcome those people who have first hand experiences, or information about, ice harvesting in the area, as we would appreciate you sharing these with us.

We also anticipate that this will be an opportunity to share in other wintertime traditions in Orange County. What did or do farmers do in the winter? Storytelling is one thing, and this will be integral to the day as will the opportunity to share information about other winter traditions on the farm like cold cellars, root vegetables, jam and jelly making, canning and seed catalogue perusing.

We'll have a warming center in the heated pavilion on the grounds. There will be food, hot drink, children¹s nature activities and entertainment. Admission is $5 per person to cover the cost of the event. Museum Village is a private, 501c3 nonprofit educational institution. For further information contact: Robert Schmick, Museum Village, at, or 845-781-3729.

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