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The Telegram
  • Millers Mills to determine fate of ice harvest

  • As Millers Mills Grange members begin to busily prepare for the annual ice harvest many might question if the major fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10, will take place.

    Due to last week’s warm temperatures the ice has started to melt said, ice harvest chairman Dave Huxtable said during a telephone interview on Friday.

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  • As Millers Mills Grange members begin to busily prepare for the annual ice harvest many might question if the major fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10, will take place.
    Due to last week’s warm temperatures the ice has started to melt said, ice harvest chairman Dave Huxtable said during a telephone interview on Friday.
    According to Huxtable, 10 inches of ice is needed to hold a successful and safe ice harvest.
    “As of Thursday afternoon the ice was about four inches thick and there was a large volume of water going through. I’m afraid it could take out the ice, but I am I’m optimistic the weekend’s colder temperatures could bring the ice back,” he said.
    Huxtable said Grange members were expected to meet Monday morning to make the final determination and decide if the ice will be thick enough for the annual celebration.
    Last year, the ice harvest was canceled due to unseasonably warm temperatures.
    Huxtable said the Ice harvest has been going on in Millers Mills forever, but became more publicly known as a celebration around the mid-1970s.
    “The ice began being cut for ice cream in the 1930s, but it has also been cut from the pond for freezing purposes since settlement first occurred in the area by founder Andrew Miller over two centuries ago,” he said. “We’re no different than any other area. In the past ice harvesting was a big industry and all the big cities had to harvest ice before refrigeration. It was a necessity in upstate New York for cooling farmers’ milk and other foods. It wasn’t until electricity came about that most ice harvesting settled down, but we have kept it going here for the ice as well as for making ice cream.”
    In July, the ice is used to make ice cream for the annual ice cream social and sundae run.
    The Millers Mills community maintains the authenticity of a 19th century ice harvest by using old hand tools to saw, separate and load ice blocks onto horse-drawn sleighs.
    The only exception is the antique, gas-powered machine used to score the ice the day before. This insures the blocks are relatively uniform in size and easier to cut and handle.
    If the event occurs, workers will begin harvesting the ice at 11 a.m. on Feb. 10 and will continue until mid-afternoon when the ice house is full. All are encouraged to participate in cutting the ice.
    Members of the Eastern Regional Draft Horse Association and their teams of draft horses will haul the ice from the Millers Mills pond to the ice house a short distance away. Packed in sawdust and snow, the ice blocks last well into the summer. The empty sleighs will provide rides back to the pond.
    Page 2 of 2 - Visitors will be able to warm up with homemade soup, hot dogs, doughnuts and hot chocolate at the Grange hall. Nearby the Community Baptist Church will offer chili, baked goods and a flea market. Jim Parker’s folk art will be available at both sites and a historical exhibit will be on display at the Grange.
    Millers Mills is in the town of Columbia. Follow Route 51 to Cedarville, or Route 28 to Jordanville Road and watch for signs to Jones Road. This year parking will only be available at the Jones Road lot.
    For more information, visit the Millers Mills Grange website at www.millersmillsny.webs.com.

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