Essex – The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area will celebrate this year’s holiday season in pioneer style with the Christmas in the Country special event on Sunday, December 8 from 12 noon – 4pm.
“Guest really enjoy our old-fashioned holiday fun,” says Kris Ives, Curator/Education Coordinator. “This event offers an opportunity for memory-making and taking part in a handmade holiday celebration.” Among the merriment, visitors can find two of St. Nicholas’ historic counterparts – Belsnickel and Ruprecht. For a $2 donation, visitors can have a child’s name added to Ruprecht’s ‘nice’ list by registering it online at jrphnicelist2019.eventbrite.ca .
As it would have been in the Park Family time, the 1850s house and farm are beautifully decorated with natural forest materials. Get hands-on with the holiday fun by stringing popcorn, baking a gingerbread cookie on the hearth, card making, and enjoying 19th century toys and games. Demonstrations of blacksmithing, woodcarving, fireplace cooking and more are also on the list of experiences.
“Perhaps most popular is the chance for guests to interact with the horses at the event,” Ives adds. “Many people don’t know that St. Nicholas’ sleigh was piloted with a white mare before reindeer came into the picture!” The event will feature horse drawn carriage rides, complete with sleigh bells, available for a small donation (weather permitting). To complete the old-fashioned holiday experience, the Homestead will also offer the opportunity to warm up with hot cider and chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
Harkening back to the Hans Christian Andersen tale, ‘The Snow Queen’, and a current popular movie, this year the Homestead will also offer a ‘Frozen in Time’ children’s experience. Imagine your little one’s delight when they meet a Norwegian Fjord horse, take a photo with their favourite princess, experience ice cutting and play a special snowman game.
Visitors can also enjoy join in the spirited, age-old Celtic winter tradition of Wassailing at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm to celebrate the year’s bountiful harvest. Harpist Anita Leschied will provide a musical backdrop to this holiday event in the historic house. Take home a treat to enjoy from the Friends of the Homestead bake sale, and find beautiful, local items in the museum gift shop for everyone on your list – including ‘coal’ candy for the stockings.
There are still a few tickets remaining for the Homestead’s exclusive Candlelight Christmas on December 10 –– pre-registration is required. The cost is $15 per person and can be purchased at https://candlelightchristmas2019.eventbrite.ca. As well, private holiday tours can be booked throughout the month of December.
Since 1978, the Homestead has been operated by the Essex Region Conservation Authority; the award-winning museum is dedicated to the interpretation of the human and natural history of the Essex Region.
John R. Park Homestead Curator
519 738 2029