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Snuggling with bunnies and baby ducks on a snowy April weekend

April 12th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Courtney Rhodes

WELLSVILLE—Hundreds of visitors braved wet and cold weather over the weekend to get all warm and fuzzy with Baby Animal Days at the American West Heritage Center.

As snow fell during the annual early-April event, families and children interacted with a variety of baby animals, ranging from turtles to bears, ducks, goats and horses.

“Baby Animal Day’s is a wonderful event that the AWHC is proud to put on,” said Anjanette Dahle, the Center’s living history program manager. “It allows children to interact, touch and see animals that they may have never seen before or may have only seen on TV or in books.”

The three-day event offered not only the opportunity to interact with baby animals, but the AWHC also provided rides on hay wagon pulled by giant draft horses, cowboy gunfights, animal story time and an old West general store, which sold old-fashioned candy, hot chocolate and kettle corn.

“I love bringing my children to this event. It’s a great experience for them to see animals that they would never normally see at home,” said Maggie Hansen of Salt Lake City, a mother of two. “It offers me an opportunity to tell my kids stories about how I grew up on a farm and lived with these animals and I love seeing how excited they are when they get to touch the animals. I don’t know of any other event which allows the public to get as close.”

Baby Animal Days is the American West Heritage Center’s largest event, and volunteers from throughout the Cache Valley are more than willing to give their time to help the Center, located in Wellsville just north of Hwy. 89/91, put on the show. Many of the volunteers say they get more out of the event than they put into it.

“Watching children’s eyes light up when they get to touch a calf or lamb for the first time, and hearing them squeal with delight when they get to hold a duckling is such an incredible experience,” said Natasha Wilson, a Center volunteer. “Its because of these experiences that I don’t think twice about giving up my weekend.”

As a non-profit organization, the AWHC relies heavily on proceeds from Baby Animal Days to fund its year-round activities. The weekend’s unseasonable April snowstorm moved a lot of the activities inside, and forced cancellation of many of the event’s signature staples. For safety reasons, pony rides, train rides, the candy cannon, and the history treasure hunt were not available.

Organizers reduced the price of admission because they had been forced to cancel some of the events, in an effort to encourage the public to attend the event despite the wet conditions.

“Even though the weather is really crappy, we decided to come to Baby Animal Days because the kids were so excited to come,” said Hank Millison, a father of five from Layton. “At the end of the day, the kids aren’t going to remember the snow or that it was freezing—they are going to remember holding a baby duck and seeing the baby bears. That is the most important part.”

For more information on Baby Animal Days and other events, visit the American West Heritage Center website.


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