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Tag: family fun

Ah, the fresh country air! The kids are in the mini van, the mini van’s winding its way into the Catskills, and you’re wondering what to do on a day after a day hitting slopes that won’t have the same sticker shock value as a whole family’s worth of ski lift tickets. Fortunately, Mine Kill State Park offers lots of free family fun activities and is less than ten minutes from the Colonial Motel.

Mine Kill is a local institution. Even though the park is better known for its boating, fishing, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and other warm weather activities, there’s plenty to do in the winter, too. Kids will love the ice skating, snow shoeing, sledding, and tubing. For teens who are more of the serene, contemplative sort, Mine Kill’s many hiking trails – including one overlooking the beautiful Mine Kill Falls – provide plenty of inspiration.

Best of all, Mine Kill’s many kid-friendly activities are free! Ice skates and other equipment can be borrowed for a refundable $5 deposit.

Mine Kill State Park is located in North Blenheim, NY. If you’ll be in the area on March 9th, don’t miss the Winter Wildlife Program. The little ones will have a chance to meet and learn all about local wildlife and do some exciting arts and crafts projects. Please check out the park’s Facebook page (or ask anyone of us here at the Colonial Motel!) to learn more about this and other free family events.

Party like it’s 1888! On February 2nd, treat yourself and your family to the 30th Annual Ice Harvest Festival at the Hanford Mills Museum. You’ll take part in a good ol’ fashioned ice harvest while enjoying ice fishing, sleigh rides, blacksmith demonstrations, and hands-on art lessons. Then warm yourself up at the bonfire or at the soup and chili buffet.

Ice was considered an important “winter crop” in the days before refrigeration. Enterprising ice harvesters would cut blocks about eight inches deep out of the frozen surfaces of lakes and ponds and store them in saw dust for months. Then, when temperatures began to rise, they would sell their ice to families and businesses who needed it to keep their food fresh. Amazingly, people would even throw the huge blocks of ice into rivers and arrange to have an associate pull out the smaller, slightly melted blocks near cities downstream where you could make a pretty penny selling ice in the sweltering summer months.

It was the otherwise somber Quakers who introduced ice cream made with winter-harvested ice in the British colonies. It quickly caught on as a festive and expensive delicacy. Ice cream was sold in shops in New York City and other big cities. One summer George Washington famously spent $200 – the equivalent of over $5,000 in today’s money – on this delicious dessert.

The Hanford Mills Museum is located in East Meredith, NY, approximately half an hour from the Colonial Motel in Grand Gorge. Open for tours in the warmer weather, the museum is a historic landmark for being one of the last intact nineteenth century mills in the state. Please see their website for more details.


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