Christmas arrives at Howell Living History Farm on Saturday, Dec. 2, with the help of a big, shiny steam engine with enough power to pull Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves in Mercer County.
After delivering St. Nick and crew to the farmhouse where they will check out Christmas lists, and give out cookies (or coal, as the case may be) from 1 to 3:30 p.m., the engine will be used to give a special treat to Santa fans. The 1907 Case steamer, complete with bells, whistles and billowing smoke as white as Santa’s beard, will be hitched to hay wagons for the afternoon and used to give free rides to all.
The farm’s annual “Christmas on the Farm” celebration begins at 10:15 a.m. when children can climb aboard a work wagon for a ride to the woods and cut down a Christmas tree. After helping farmers do the cutting with a two-man saw, children can help decorate the tree with ear corn, pine cones and other natural ornaments.
Popcorn made over an open fire, music by the Jugtown Mountain String Band, and visits to the farmhouse kitchen and the blacksmith’s forge are among the many free activities. In the Visitor Center gift shop, Christmas shoppers will find items made from the farm’s wool as well as the farm’s award-winning maple syrup and honey. Straps of sleigh bells crafted by the farm’s harness maker, fresh wreaths and roping will be for sale.
A children’s craft program, “Natural Pine Door Hanging,” will be offered in the wagon house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $3. Throughout the day, visitors can also enjoy refreshments and lunch fare in the Visitor Center classroom.
Howell Farm is owned by Mercer County and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission. It is located on Valley Road, just off Route 29, in Hopewell Township. The GPS address is 70 Woodens Lane, Hopewell Township, N.J. For more information about the farm, call (609) 737-3299 or visit www.mercercountyparks.org or www.howellfarm.com.