• BEST IN STATE—Senior Courtney Schoen Lewis was named Best PR Student in Utah. Story

Best-kept secret for fall fun may be American West Heritage Center

October 16th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & photo by Mandy Morgan

WELLSVILLE—-Pumpkin picking, pony rides and a giant slide. Corn stalks, scarecrows and barns full of fun. These are all things that can be found at the American West Heritage Center during its prime fall season, which continues through Oct. 29.

Though a lot of people living in Cache Valley know about the Heritage Center, there are plenty of people who have never even been there before. “That’s the thing,” employee Rebecca Moses said. “With a lot of fun stuff that happens, not a lot of people know about them.”

Moses is currently using the work she does at the Heritage Center as the internship she needs as a parks and recreation major at Utah State University. She helps not only at the front desk, but with many of the seasonal activities that take place at the center. “I’ve done it all—been in parades, dressed up,” Moses said.

However, as Moses personally believes, not enough people know that interactive stuff is happening at the Heritage Center.

“This is called a living history museum,” Moses said. “But nobody knows what that means.” A living history museum, at least in the way that the Heritage Center portrays it, is a museum that brings everything shared and displayed to life for visitors to enjoy on a different level. “We can say ‘Here, pet the goat,’ or ‘Help us milk a cow,’” Moses said. “We made ice cream from the raspberries that we have, and we could show the kids how to do that and then give them a little cup of ice cream for them to eat.”

Not only does a living museum mean that visitors get to interact with animals and participate in activities, but also get to know and see historical figures and people representing different time periods. “It’s a very hands-on experience,” Kelsie Laub said. Laub works at the front desk of the Heritage Center helping people get tickets for all of the different activities.

One major way that history is brought alive during the fall season is with the Haunted Hallow event. “Our Haunted Hallow is unique compared to all other places like it; it is all based on history,” Living History Manager Anjanette Dahle said. Dahle is in charge of all big living history events during the year, including everything during the fall harvest season.

The Hallow is themed “Terrifying Tales of the Past” this year, and “is kind of a fun, different experience,” said Dahle.

“It is historically accurate,” said Moses of the Hallow. “It is really something—they work so many hours on it.” She believes that this is one of the best date options in the valley for college students; it isn’t too expensive and is especially fun for guys wanting to have scared girls clinging to their arms, she said.

There are not just seasonal interactive activities. During the summer the historic sites can be seen and learned about. Also during the summer visitors can interact directly with the farm animals there, which includes petting sheep and milking cows, along with a lot of other activities.

“Everyone can find something they can do,” Moses said, “college students or families with bitty kids.”

Especially with the seasonal activities, there is something tailored for every age group. “For the Fall Harvest Festival, there is the Haunted Hallow for more college age kids. But we don’t have a haunted corn maze, for those that don’t want to be scared.”

Though all activities provided at the Heritage Center are meant for entertainment, everything is meant to be educational for the participants, in some way. “Our emphasis is in education,” Moses said. “Then we can add really fun things to that.”

Dahle agrees with this. “Our emphasis is to keep teaching,” Dahle said. Her favorite part of it all is the living history part. She likes “when the kids see it come alive, for them to be learning and not realizing they are learning.”

Dahle views the seasonal activities and the impact that they make for the Center. “The Corn Maze, Haunted Hallow, and Harvest Festival are the biggest fundraisers for the season,” Dahle said. “Being a non-profit organization, we depend on these to keep our history museums, everything open during the summer.”

The events this fall season include the corn maze, a giant slide, a hay jump, hay rides, a kids’ maze, pony rides, train rides, a Barnyard Boo trick-or-treat activity, the Haunted Hallow, the traditional Fall Harvest Festival, and an antique tractor party to celebrate the Center’s 100 year birthday.

The Fall Harvest Festival is a huge celebration held the weekend of Oct. 21-22. There will be corn shelling, apple presses, a family-based Harvest Dance on Friday night, and gunfighter shows on Saturday afternoon. The gunfighters bring in the most crowds, Dahle said. Her favorite part of the Festival is “watching the gun fighter shows because the public really loves them,” she said.

There is so much for people of all ages and interests to do at the American West Heritage Center, especially until the end of October during the fall seasonal events, she said. And even if people come in just for the continued museum stuff they can’t be disappointed with the interesting interactive aspect of the Center.

“The biggest thing for us is the support we get from the community,” Dahle said. “People in the valley support us year after year—a lot of residents have membership passes. The support they give is amazing. We appreciate what the public does for us.”

Students can get a discount for the seasonal events and activities going on this month if they show their student ID card when purchasing tickets at the front desk. The American West Heritage Center is located at 4025 S. Highway 89-91 in Wellsville. Visit www.awhc.org for more detailed information.


Tags: , , , ,

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.