BRATTLEBORO — An artful ice shanties event presented last year by Brattleboro Museum & Art Center and Retreat Farm is back again — this time with a full schedule of outdoor events.
At the first event, visitors saw ice shanties shaped like a giant iridescent fish, a black die with moon-shaped dots, a seascape with a three-dimensional octopus, and more.
“Last year was great,” said museum director Danny Lichtenfeld. “But we didn't quite realize our vision of making Artful Ice Shanties a full-on winter festival celebrating art, culture, and the great outdoors. This year, there will be much more in store for everyone who bundles up and visits.”
Visitors are welcome to stop by Retreat Farm Feb. 19 to 27, dawn to dusk, to view the shanties. There is no fee for admission. A panel of local judges will bestow a variety of light-hearted awards at an outdoor Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 2 p.m.
Among the 18 individuals and groups who have constructed shanties for the event are local artist Justin Kenney, Green Street School art teacher Rachel Mangean, ice fisherman Stephen Haisley, members of Brattleboro West Arts and former museum education curator Linda Whelihan, who worked with family and friends to build the Northern Light Box, a glass box that makes use of recycled lenses from Omega Optical to simulate the experience of northern lights.
Namaskônek is an ice fishing shanty that was inspired by the Algonquin ancestors of the region and designed in collaboration with Gedakina staff, local Abenaki ice fishermen, input from local architects, and Erin Maile O’Keefe as lead. Gedakina is a network that provides resources and opportunities for Native American and indigenous youth, women and families from rural, urban and reservation communities across New England.
Third- and fourth-grade students from Wardsboro Elementary School and their teachers constructed Animals in Winter, a shanty that showcases what the students have learned about animals’ winter survival strategies.
This year’s event coincides with numerous other outdoor events in Brattleboro, many of them back after a COVID-related hiatus in 2021. Brattleboro’s Winter Carnival will be held Feb. 19 to 27, with a full program of events to be announced Feb. 17. The 100th anniversary of the Harris Hill Ski Jump will take place Feb. 19 and 20.
While the Artful Ice Shanties are on display, the museum and Retreat Farm will present a full schedule of related events at the farm:
- Snow snake making workshops, Feb. 12, 9 to 12, and Feb. 13, 1 to 4 p.m. Registration required. Hosted by the Atowi Project, an Elnu Abenaki community initiative, in preparation for the snow snake competition on Feb. 27. Snow snake is a traditional game played by Abenaki and other tribal nations.
- Ice skating on the Retreat Meadows, daily (conditions permitting). Bring your own skates.
- Hot cocoa served daily, Feb. 19 to 27
- Roaring fire pit at Retreat Farm, Feb. 21 to 27, 2 to 5 p.m.
- Snowshoe rental, Feb. 24 to 27, $10. Reserve your snowshoes in advance, or bring your own snowshoes, boots, or cross-country skis and traverse the Retreat Farm trails, dawn to dusk. Be sure to visit Carlos the ox and the other outdoor animals.
- Pop-Up Art with Robin, Feb. 24 to 27, noon to 3 p.m. Hands-on art projects from painted rocks to salt-dough portraits.
- Pop-up Beer Garden hosted by Thirsty Goat Bar, Feb. 24 to 27, 3 to 6 p.m. at Retreat Farm’s Yellow Farmhouse, featuring $5 Vermont craft beers, ciders and wines, as well as make-your-own s’mores.
- Brattleboro’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby, Retreat Meadows, Feb. 26, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration starts at 5:30 a.m. on the ice.
- Introduction to Ice Fishing clinics, Feb. 26 (two clinics offered, 9 to noon and 12:15 to 3 p.m.) presented by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Registration required.
- Drop-in snow snake workshop, Feb. 26, noon to 1:45 p.m. Hosted by Gedakina, a nonprofit network serving Native American/indigenous youth, women, and families in New England. Snow snake is a traditional game played by Abenaki and other tribal nations.
- Snow snake competition, Feb. 27, noon to 3 p.m., hosted by the Elnu Abenaki Band. All are welcome. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Snow snakes will be available for those who wish to participate.
Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. The museum, in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro at the intersection of Main Street and routes 119 and 142, is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.
The museum is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Allen Bros. Oil, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Four Columns Inn, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters and Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery