The way my 10-year-old daughter talks about Hale Farm and Village after exploring it during a field trip in the 4th grade, you would think it was Disneyland. She has been begging to return ever since her class visit last fall. Growing up my dad, a former social studies teacher, dragged my brother and me to every historical site across the USA in our light blue woody wagon (quintessential 1970s road tripping, right?). Although I have many fond memories of catching toads, parking on anthills, and driving through the desert without a/c, learning about American history by touring old buildings didn’t top my fond raod trip memory list. So I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to take her to our local historical treasure. However, last weekend the weather was perfect so I caved. Plus, Hale Farm and Village was holding its annual Harvest Festival, and I do always love a good fall fest.
At the entrance we were given a map of the grounds along with where to find all of the unique Harvest Festival activities. The woman also pointed out some of the more child-friendly activities. However, all of the activities on the map were very exciting to my girls not just the ones identified as child-friendly.
Luck was definitely with us as our first stop was at the hayrides and wagon rides tent. I would highly suggest you make this your first stop as well. The rides are assigned by time so you can explore the rest of the festival and don’t waste your time waiting in line. By visiting here first, we were able to get tickets on the horse-drawn wagon ride in an hour which was the perfect amount of time to explore the far loop of the village and return. In addition to the wagon ride, they also offered a hayride pulled by a tractor and a smaller horse-drawn carriage ride.
My girls were thrilled to find a Maize Maze at the festival. It was our first corn maze of the season! The first time we all went through it together. It was a nice smaller maze with a few dead ends. After the girls raced though it several times with me serving as the race official.
We then headed over to th Jonathan E. Herrick House and enjoyed apple butter making outside the home. We were given the helpful hint of making it at home in the slow cooker, and I definitely see this happening in our near future.
It was just a short walk to the barnyard. My daughter loved the chickens and had names for several of them from when she visited last fall with her classmates.
We then completed the far loop touring each of the buildings along the way. My daughter’s enthusiasm was contagious. We all enjoyed learning about each of the structures and early American crafts and trades. We also took some time to explore the beautiful fall flower garden next to the Goldsmith House.
Although we missed seeing Johnny Appleseed, the girls enjoyed seeing the beautiful old cider press and learning about how fresh cider was made using this press.
We also learned about how brooms were made using broomcorn, which is related to sorghum. I think their very favorite demonstration was spinning. We enjoyed learning about the entire process of how wool was made into yarn from shearing the sheep, to dying the wool, to spinning the yarn. The girls even tried their hands at carding.
Although they also had a pumpking patch and pumpking painting for a small additional fee, we opted to skip this activity since the boys weren’t with us on this adventure. We did, however, treat ourselves to some warm cider for the ride home. We even picked up some information about their Holiday Lantern Tours. My daughter was right, Hale Farm and Village is a fun and educational adventure, and I hope we can return soon with the boys.