What is This Place, Anyway?
The Art Barn is an outdoor farm experience for children (my guess is that the best ages for this experience are 2/3 yrs old up to 9/10 yrs old). This farming experience includes petting, brushing and feeding the animals, including donkeys, horses, goats, chickens, pigs, ducks, and more. Farmer Sue also takes you on a hayride across the property, past the cow and compost pile, past the garden and around and around. After the hayride everyone clamors into the barn (with comfortable seats and air conditioning) for an artproject. Farmer Sue, a teacher herself, uses multiple media to assist kids in creating an age-appropriate art project in a very loose and fun way. Then there is lunch at the picnic tables, another hayride, more time with the animals, and lots of “free time” for running around and checking things out.
The Review in a Nutshell:
Skip all the other petting zoos and come here for some relaxed animal fun with a twist! This is a repeat activity, for sure. The price is well worth the fun; Farmer Sue will make your day and steal your child’s heart.
The Know Before You Go:
- The location is easy to miss, even with directions; it looks like a cute house sitting on some wooded property. Keep your eyes peeled.
- There are plenty of picnic tables for lunch but no fridge or drink/snack machines. You eat what you bring. Also, don’t expect to find trash cans around the picnic area. Please expect to take out what you bring in. Once you are there and see the beauty, charm and cleanliness of this property you will appreciate the concept.
- There are restrooms on site. She also has hand sanitizer and wipes sitting out on a table.
- We went in mid August (i.e. HOT WEATHER) but it was still a wonderful experience – there is plenty of shade. Also, did not notice any mosquitoes.
- Wear sneakers – these are real animals with real bowel movements (haha). Expect to throw them in the washer when you get home. It is not dirty or muddy, but it is a good idea to wash up everything afterwards.
- Bring your camera! There are so many super awesome photo opportunities. Don’t miss out by leaving it behind.
- This is not a “drop by” location – there are several programs for which you can register. Call Farmer Sue before you come. There is also a calendar on the website.
- No credit cards – cash or check only. If you need another option…she can send you the link to settle up by paypal.
- If you have an infant in tow, it is a good idea to bring a stroller. You can’t wheel it everywhere (you have to leave it behind on the hayride, for example), but there is room for it on the farm and it makes a great set of “second hands” for helping your older one with art, animals, etc.
- There is not a place to change diapers very easily, but parking is very close and accessible. I just went back to the truck to change my son and it wasn’t a problem “catching up” with the group
Need the Details?
So, if you’re anything like me you have shelled out the dough and driven the miles to “another” petting zoo for your kiddo. After less than 5 minutes, you are wondering why you did it. The place is smelly and cramped; you wonder if anyone ever cleans these fenced areas. The animals are nipping at you for food; your kids are screaming because the animals are so aggressive. You don’t really feel like touching the animals, much less “petting” them! Well, I have good news. This place is totally different!
Farmer Sue is the coolest woman you will ever meet. She greeted us in a pink tee, purple overalls, and a triple-strand pearl necklace, full of charm and energy. After an hour or so with her I totally wanted to invite her over, open a bottle of red, prop up my feet and listen to her ‘art and animal’ tales all day! The kids connect with her, too. She’s a teacher and you can tell: she has patience beyond belief and knows how to talk to a three-year-old and be heard. And let’s be honest…when your kid is acting up or doing something they are not supposed to be doing…it feels better when your hostess understands the ways of a child.
This is no ordinary petting zoo. Foremost, you can tell that Farmer Sue adores her animals and treats them like family. They are cleaner than any other petting zoo type animals I have ever seen. And they are so loving; I had one of the donkeys snuggling into my thigh (I loved it!). I didn’t have the “stressful” feeling I get at other places, either. It was relaxing and roomy and I was able to genuinely have fun with the animals and my son. You don’t get a “bucket o’ food” when you come in, either. She pulls out the hay and lets the kids help feeding it to the animals – like a real farm – so they aren’t “attacking” your kiddo the whole time. They usually want some lovin’ more than feedin’.
As we were on the tractor, one of the pigs wandered by. I don’t think Farmer Sue knew anyone was listening, but I heard her call the pig by name and tell her how much she loved her. The she blew her kisses. I don’t see that happening at the other Joe Shmo Petting Zoos around town.
Oh my, I can’t forget to mention the décor. I love how cute (and clean!) everything looks. Next to the “funky chicken” house is a lean-to for the cow…with a chandelier hanging from above! There are paintings of cows on glass, too, to keep her company. The animal buildings are all classic “red barns”. Her cute house is yellow brick. There are rabbit statues and bottle trees in the garden. And a rabbit hutch covered in Muscadine vine surrounded by a purple fence. Every inch is precious beyond words.
The art experience was great for us, also. Farmer Sue instructed us on how to paint a pig using basic shapes. But there was no pressure – my son painted everything on his paper except a pig – LOL. But Farmer Sue was able to use her super-special-vision to find one on the page. Her easy-going attitude is very refreshing. I love how she uses different mediums, and keeps the farm theme going.
I had another hand, I would give this adventure three thumbs up. As it is, we’ll have to settle for two. We will definitely be going again. The atmosphere was everything I want in a farm animal excursion, Farmer Sue was a hoot, and my son had a blast running around outside. Make an effort to go here, folks, and bring your friends!
Upcoming Ways to Enjoy:
The Art Barn offers birthday parties, private parties, etc which I have heard great things about but not attended. Keep a watch on her website for seasonal fun – best thing around especially for smaller kids.