Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead launches season with new attractions

04/03/2014 11:34 AM

04/04/2014 2:28 PM

Chilly temperatures and cloudy skies couldn’t keep a crowd of families away from opening day at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead this week.

After all, there were baby goats to feed and ponies to ride and fish to catch. Oh, and don’t forget strolling down Main Street.

On Tuesday afternoon, more than 1,400 people walked through the gates at the farmstead to learn about early-20th century Kansas and to ogle baby animals.

On a typical summer weekend, the park usually sees 3,000 to 4,000 guests per day, said Kerrie Nichols, the park’s public program supervisor. For a brisk school day in the spring, 1,418 was a good turnout.

The 12-acre farmstead has several new attractions this year.

A photo parlor, barbershop, and blacksmith shop— all set in the early 20th century — opened this season, thanks to fundraising efforts from the nonprofit Friends of the Farmstead and private donations. The three new buildings join the recently built general store, ice cream parlor and bank.

In the new photo parlor, guests pose in front of a green screen that puts them into a scene of their choice, such as a tornado or sunny farm with friendly animals. Photos cost $7.50, or two for $12.

“So far, kids and their parents are really excited about it, so I think it’s going to be one of our biggest hits,” said Alex Hicks, who works in the photo parlor. “It’s been really cool to use modern technology to bring historical farm scenery to life.”

Next door, in the barbershop, guests can make free appointments for a lively historical presentation by Chuck Evans, who dons early 1900s barber attire. The shop features antique barber chairs, colorful mugs and hair-cutting tools genuine to the time period.

“Researching for this role has been a hoot,” Evans said. “I’ve learned so many interesting facts and I can’t wait to share them all with the kids.”

Nearby at the blacksmith shop on Tuesday, a row of mesmerized little boys stared over the wall as iron was carefully heated in a small coal fire.

“We’re more than just a petting zoo, and people coming here today are wowed by how much we’ve changed in the past few years,” Nichols said. “With the completion of our Main Street and our additional historical presentations, we’re giving kids a fun, well-rounded learning experience.”

The final touches on Main Street were not the only renovations this year.