Emily Buckley, editor in chief
Nothing screams “Welcome, Spring!” better than baby animals, and most Cache Valley locals know that the best place to find them is at the American West Heritage Center’s (AWHC) Baby Animals Days.
Baby Animal Days is coming April 4-7, and, as usual, will feature hands-on experiences with lambs, piglets, bunnies, calves, kids, foals, chicks, ducklings, and baby bears from Yellowstone Bear World.
“The interaction kids get with the baby animals, holding and touching them, is pretty special,” said Reigan Gudmundons, AWHC marketing director. “We have people there to ensure the public is safe, and the animals are safe, but for the kids to come to the farm and experience this, the joy on their faces says it all.”
The AWHC will have their living history exhibits up and going during the event, including a gold panning station; 1820s mountain men in period clothing at the trader’s cabin; a Shoshone Indian dressed in tribal wear who will tell you about the first inhabitants of the area; pioneer women from the 1860s spinning and carding wool; farmers from 1917 cooking in the original farmhouse kitchen and working on steam tractors, apple cider presses, sheering sheep, and milking the cows; carpenters in action at the Woodwright shop; and blacksmiths at work.
Visitors will also be delighted by a candy cannon going off twice daily, pony and train rides, face painting, and food and craft vendors from around the Valley.
“Although this is a huge event and we greet crowds of more than 25,000 over four days, we have gotten to a point that there is so much going on so no one has to wait in line for too long,” Reigan said. “We are learning as we go, and it is getting better every year.”
Baby Animal Days is the AWHC’s largest annual event. “Baby Animal Days is our most important event; it sustains the Heritage Center,” said Mic Bowen, AWHC director. “It carries the Heritage Center through the summer so we can sustain our living history and educational outreach throughout the year. Without this event, grants, and private donations we could not keep the AWHC running.”
The AWHC was organized in 1995 when two Utah State University programs, the Ronald V. Jensen Historical Farm and the Festival of the American West, merged to form a non-profit foundation. The AWHC is under a contractual agreement with Utah State University to manage and farm the nearly 300 acres of open space, historical buildings, and related structures.
The AWHC utilizes its picturesque setting to tell the story of the history of the American West within the time period of 1820 to 1920. Much of production from the farm is recycled into the farm for feeding and bedding the animals, and to feed the volunteers and staff throughout the summer (where the public can see them collect eggs, harvest their garden, and prepare meals in Dutch ovens and wood burning stoves).
“We like to take families back to the time that Cache Valley was settled, and let them experience what it was like here,” Reigan said. “It is something really special to us. We are caught up in this world of technology and constantly moving and busy; it is really nice to step back in time for a moment and learn about what came before us.”
The AWHC operates with a limited full-time staff of less than 10 people, and they rely on nearly 200 regular volunteers to run the farm and living history year-round, utilizing additional volunteer groups for special events, like Baby Animal Days.
“We could not run our programs without our volunteers,” Reigan said. “They make the biggest difference.”
Baby Animal Days 2018
April 4-7 • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Baby bear line closes at 4:30 p.m. Last entrance ticket sold at 5 p.m.)
Tickets $9 adults | $7 children ages 3-11
Donate a can of food for the Cache Community Food Pantry and receive $1 off admission.
All activities are included with admission to Baby Animal Days; food is sold separately.
Families who are interested in Baby Animal Days and other activities at the AWHC may want to consider membership. The cost for a family membership is $80 per a year (includes adults and dependent children in a household), and provides admission to Baby Animal Days, Pioneer Day Festival, Corn Maze on the Farm, Haunted Hollow and Fall Harvest Festival, free admission to Historic Adventures (Tuesday through Saturday, June through August), 50 percent off Friday Tea Parties in the summer, unlimited pony and train rides during Historic Adventures and special events, 10 percent off gift shop purchases, summer camps, and facility rentals, and 10 percent off other special events. Members can also get 25 percent off ticket prices for additional guests (up to six) to Historic Adventures, Baby Animal Days, Pioneer Day Festival, Corn Maze on the Farm, Haunted Hollow, and Fall Harvest Festival.