we the people

A special evening

Proceeds from Living History Farms’ Farmstasia will benefit education and outreach education programs

By Matt Miller

Set as a 500-acre open-air museum, Living History Farms enlightens thousand of visitors each year taking them back in time to experience the Midwest’s fertile prairies and five historical time periods spanning 300 years. But as Living History Farms closes its door on yet another successful season, officials don’t want to go out without a bang. On Oct. 31, the grounds will be transformed as it will host its first annual Farmstasia — an evening of spooky celebration.

“We wanted to book-end our season similar to how we started it — with a big party,” said Ruth Haus, president of Living History Farms. “Each year we’ve done events for children, but we wanted to host an adults-only event this year.”

The costumed event will have a Victorian era theme to it as guests will have the opportunity to participate in a number of Victorian games such as physic and tarot card readings. There will also be live entertainment and a live and silent auction on art, which will showcase the 2009 season theme of “Art at the Farms.”

“It’s going to be a fun night,” said Kenzie Piper, development officer at Living History Farms. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign in the United Kingdom from 1837 to 1901. The era was one of great prosperity for the British people. Clothing during the Victorian era was generally custom-made by seamstresses, milliners, tailors or other specialized tradespeople. Women wore corsets and ball gowns that bared the shoulders. Men’s clothing was apparel that was formal and stiff. Entertainment consisted of interests in theatre, art, drama, music and opera.

Living History Farms hopes to raise $50,000 with proceeds from the event benefiting its education and outreach program that take place throughout the year. Living History Farms offers enrichment and outreach programs, learning excursions, adult classes and internship opportunities. Popular excursions are tours through the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm, the 1850 Pioneer Farm, the 1900 horse-powered farm and 20th century farming. Living History Farms can also sends interpreters to educational sites to bring the farm experience to the classroom.

“We have more than 30,000 kids involved in outreach each year,” Haus said. “We believe it’s very important to educate the youth on Iowa’s history.”

As the year winds down, Haus says the season at Living History Farms has been one of much success. Attendance is up 6 percent, and the grounds hosted the Urbandale Farmers’ Market (runs through Monday, Oct. 12), allowing consumers to purchase fresh produce, baked goods and handcrafted items. Last week, Living History Farms also celebrated the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit, which took place on Oct. 4, 1979.

“It’s been a fantastic season for us, and this is the perfect way to end the year before we begin our Historic Dinners,” Haus said. “The programming has been great, and the weather has certainly helped.”

Plans are already in the works for next year’s event, which will be a hoedown on Oct. 16, 2010. Living History Farms will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“Our goal is to have an evening of fun and to raise as much money as we can to help further the overall experience at Living History Farms,” Piper said.

We the People note: Guests are encouraged to RVSP for Living History Farms’ Farmstasia by Oct. 16. Tickets are $150 per person; member price of $100 per person. A table of 8 is $1,000 or for members it is $750. Volunteers are also needed for the event. For more information, visit www.lhf.org or call 278-5286. CV


Caption: Wagon rides will be a part of Living History Farms’ first annual Farmstasia on Oct. 31. Photo courtesy of Living History Farms


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