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Fireflies, model trains at Blackberry Farm

Kids enjoy a pony ride at Blackberry Farm in Aurora in 2005. In addition to pony rides, kids can check out the old-fashioned farm implements at the Farm Museum, one of five museums at the Aurora farm.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer, 2005

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Published: 7/17/2008 12:08 AM

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Blackberry Farm, a 54-acre living history museum, offers a variety of programs and activities. The farm is at 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora. For information or reservations, call (630) 892-1550 or visit www.foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.

Fireflies on the Farm: Spend a summer evening from 8 to 9 p.m. Friday at Blackberry Farm to explore this insect's intriguing lifestyle: where they live, what they eat and why they flash. Then spread out across the park grounds to catch (and release) some of these amazing creatures. Each participant receives a "Lug-a-Bug", an original insect container that doubles as a quirky fashion accessory. Be sure to bring bug spray and a flashlight. Cost for individuals is $4 for residents and $6 for nonresidents, or for families of three or more, $10 for resident families and $15 for nonresident families. To register, call (630) 897-1808.

Model Train Extravaganza: Are you a model train buff? Blackberry Farm will have many different working model train layouts on July 26-27. Events will take place during park hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call the events hotline for information at (630) 892-1550. All activities are included with your park admission.

Blackberry's Car Show: Enjoy the annual car show featuring street rods, customized cars, and classic automobiles on Aug. 10. Stroll past these machines and bring back those fond memories of that first car you owned or dreamed of owning. Check out some of the coolest street rods and customized cars in the area. Cars will be on display from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fall Harvest Day: Come out on a beautiful Indian summer day for a Blackberry popular special event, the Fall Harvest on Sept. 14. From noon to 4 p.m., you can learn how the pioneers prepared themselves for the harsh winter ahead. For a small fee, you can taste some early American foods like apple cider, corn bread, and hot corn on the cob. Families may take part in some old fashioned games that pioneer children enjoyed. Other activities for the day include corn shelling and grinding, butter making, cheese making and many other activities. Clif Frantz will have an early traveler display at the Pioneer cabin. Be sure to visit the local silver smith, Don Cronauer, and watch him craft silver into fine jewelry. Call the events hotline for information at (630) 892-1550. All activities are included with your park admission, with the exception of food purchases.

Raku Pottery: What is Raku pottery? It is an ancient form of Japanese pottery used for making teapots and cups. At Blackberry Farm, it's a fun filled family activity on Sept. 21. For a small fee, you can purchase one of the many pieces of pottery to glaze and decorate, then watch the Raku firing process in action. Folk musician Chris Vallillo performs and silver smith Don Cronauer will offer demonstrations. Call the events hotline for information at (630) 892-1550.

Pumpkin Weekends: Pumpkin Weekends are Oct. 4-5, 11-13, 18-19 and 25-26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be limited operations. No season passes or free passes are accepted.

Admission and hours: It is open daily May 1 to Labor Day, weather permitting. If the weather is questionable, call before your visit. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. After Labor Day, the park is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 28. Pony Rides and Pedal Tractors are open when school is out of session for the summer.

Admission for Fox Valley Park District residents is $4.25 for adults and $3.75 for children and seniors. Admission for nonresidents is $7 for adults and $6 for children and seniors.

Blackberry Farm is a living history museum on 54 scenic acres with a lake, ponds and a meandering stream. The grounds contain an arboretum with more than 200 varieties of trees, floral displays and historic agricultural gardens. Blackberry Farm has five museums including the Carriage House, the Farm Museum, the Early Streets Museum and the Huntoon House. These contain an outstanding collection of late 19th century artifacts used in every facet of life. In the Carriage House, there are 40 carriages, sleighs and commercial vehicles. The Farm collection has many rare implements dating from the mid-1800s to 1910. The Streets Museum houses 11 late Victorian-era exhibit stores including a music shop, pharmacy, general store, photography shop and toy store.

Many period craft demonstrations bring Blackberry Farm to life. Visitors can watch demonstrations of blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, sewing and pottery, as well as visit a one-room schoolhouse, an Aurora home from the 1840s, and a farm cabin. In each area, demonstrators depict activities and life of the bygone era.

Children and their parents will enjoy a ride on the restored miniature train to visit the pioneer cabin, where they can take an old-fashioned hay wagon ride along Blackberry Creek. Back at the village, they can ride the carousel or the ponies. Food is available at the outdoor Summer Kitchen that overlooks a pond with a spraying fountain. Visitors may bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the picnic groves along the lake shore.

The gift shop, located in the town square, carries handcrafted textiles and pottery made in the park. Special orders are also taken. For more information or reservations, call (630) 892-1550.