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Rebeccah Cope

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Historic Yates Mill County Park offers public, educational programs for all ages year-round. Visit our Calendar of Events and sign up for our E-Newsletter to stay up to date!


Looking for Guided Tours of Historic Yates Mill? View the Mill Tours page.

Looking for Organized Group Programs? View the Group Programs page.

Interested in Volunteer Opportunities?  Check out the Volunteers-in-Parks page.

Scroll down or select a program series below to learn more about our offerings:
Now Available!
Ready to sign up? Register online for public programs.
Search for programs by location, age, date and more!
 For a printout of quarterly programs and events, and for a paper copy of the Wake County parks program registration form, refer to the program bulletin below.
The following programs are offered at Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, NC 27603. For more information, contact the park at 919-856-6675 or email
Our staff also offers public programs at Crowder District Park.
Check out the Crowder programs page for details.
Do you want to see Wake County's last remaining water-powered gristmill in action?
Corn grinding demonstrations with 19th century costumed guides takes place on the third weekend of each month through November. Details are on our Mill Tours page. 
Capitol Independence Day Celebration
Tuesday, July 4, Noon–5 p.m.
Help us celebrate Independence Day on the Capitol Square in downtown Raleigh with a patriotic concert and picnic. Wander over to the Capitol’s “Old Fashioned 4th” area and see how people in North Carolina celebrated the 4th long ago. We'll have costumed volunteers on hand with a variety of fun activities and an educational Yates Mill display. This family-friendly event features a naturalization ceremony for new citizens, musical performances, food and historic demonstrations. Admission is free.
Special Program: The Great American Eclipse
Monday, August 21, 1–4 p.m.
On August 21, something is going to happen in the United States that has not happened since 1918. On that date, a total solar eclipse will be visible all the way from the east coast to the west coast. Day will turn into night as the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow on the United States that will track from Oregon to South Carolina. Join us to discover solar eclipse fun facts, pick up a pair of eclipse viewing glasses (while supplies last), and head out to the park's open field to view the eclipse directly. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required.
12th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.
This family-oriented event includes corn grinding demonstrations and costumed tours of Yates Mill and other event activities including a fun children’s scavenger hunt activity, live music and dance, story-tellers, community displays, hand-craft demonstrations and sales, antique vehicles, farm tools, food vendors, and more! For all ages; fee: FREE, although there is a $3-5 fee for mill tours. Registration is not required.
Want to be involved? Contact our program director at 919-856-5635 for details.
For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Stop by the Finley Center exhibit hall anytime during the program time.
Teddy Bears Picnic
Saturday–Monday, July 810, 8:30 a.m.– 5 p.m.
A "Teddy Bears' Picnic" is a song with a 1907 melody by American composer John Walter Bratton and lyrics by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. It remains popular as a children's song today. Grab your own picnic lunch and teddy bear from home, and head to the park to "go down to the woods today". Come by the Finley Center exhibit hall to explore the history of the Teddy Bear and play some sweet bear games.
National Tell a Joke Day
Wednesday, August 16, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Let's get serious now. We are not kidding. August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. No doubt about it. It will be a fun-filled day, with lots of laughter. The more jokes you tell, the more fun this day will be. To fully participate and enjoy this day, come to the Finley Center anytime during the day to share some jokes with the park community. Maybe you’ll even win the park’s “groaner” award! We'll have a large board set up in the Exhibit Hall where jokes can be shared.
History Mysteries
Sundays, July 16, August 20, and Sept. 17, 1–4 p.m.
In July and August, see a selection of artifacts loaned from the N.C. Office of State Archaeology. In September, learn about and see pictures of an archaeological discovery, and use your detective skills to figure out what that discovery might mean.
The Autumnal Equinox
Friday–Sunday, Sept. 22–24, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point where there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the park's Finley Center Exhibit Hall to explore fun facts about this special time of year. Find out about how and why the equinox occurs, and also learn about seasonal folklore and related historical traditions.

Art in the Park

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
Build a Scarecrow Day
Sunday, July 2, 3–4:30 p.m.
When you think of scarecrows, you might think of the fall season but they really are needed in summer to guard gardens from hungry wildlife! On National Build a Scarecrow Day, help us to protect our garden by helping to build a few spooky scarecrows for the park. We will provide the clothes and straw needed. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is required.
Project Friendship Day  
Saturday–Sunday, August 5–6, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Come by the Finley Center any time during the day to participate in a collaborative community art project celebrating National Friendship Day, which is August 6. A variety of artistic materials will be provided to help you to express your vision of friendship and goodwill. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE! Registration is not required. 
Apple Seeds and Orchard Fun 
Sunday, Sept. 24, 3–4:30 p.m.
Join us for some fruitful fun! Listen to a story about Johnny Appleseed, the legendary character who's based on John Chapman, the American frontier nurseryman who planted apple trees in many states. Play the game of "fruit dash" and try your hand at the "apple bushel toss." Then create a seed work of art to take home. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is required.

Free historic trade wayside displays & demonstrations are offered on the third Saturday of each month, March through November, in the mill yard when the mill is open for tours and grinding corn. For all ages. Registration is not required.

Ice Suppliers & Tradesmen
Saturday, July 15, 1–4 p.m.
Cool summer treats like ice cream, snow cones, and popsicles all have one thing in common. Ice! Valued around the world for its cooling purposes for thousands of years, it was first harvested as a sale-able commodity in the United States in the early 1800s. Explore the history of this often overlooked essential ingredient and try your hand at ice bowling. For all ages; fee: FREE! Registration not required. Head to the mill yard anytime during the program time.
Apiarists & Bee Business
Saturday, August 19, 1–4 p.m.
Perfect your pollinator perception this summer as we explore how these beneficial insects pollinate flowers and help our gardens grow. Celebrate National Honey Bee Day by discovering how bee hives works, and by exploring the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives. See what a bee sees through a fun field exploration. For all ages, FREE. Registration not required. Head to the mill yard anytime during the program time.
The Farm Family
Saturday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
While large plantations have come to represent life in the American South, in reality the majority of the population was made up of middle to lower class farm families. These families depended on the labor of the husband, wife and children for survival. Bring your family and learn what your role on a 19th century farm would have been through fun activities and crafts. For all ages, FREE. Registration not required. Head to the mill yard anytime during the program time.

A Side of History 

Yankee Doodle Dandy
Tuesday, July 4, 11 a.m.–noon
Rev up your July 4th celebration with a fun dose of history. Learn about the American Revolution through a whimsical story set to the popular tune of Yankee Doodle, where mice, rabbits, and other woodland creatures bring to life the era’s important events. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is not required.
Lighting the Way
Monday, August 7, 2:30–4 p.m.
North Carolina is home to nine lighthouses including Cape Hatteras, the tallest in the United States. Join us on National Lighthouse Day to hear the true heroic tale of Abbie Burgess, a young woman who was forced to run her family's lighthouse alone in the winter of 1856. Play a lighthouse game and make your own model lighthouse to take home. For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $6/Person. Registration is required.
Harvest-time for the Ingalls
Saturday, Sept. 30, 3–4:30 p.m.
The harvest season was a busy time for Laura Ingalls Wilder's pioneer family. Put on your straw hat or sun bonnet and head to the park to try out the types of farm chores the family had to tackle and what they did to get ready for winter. Explore how the family tended to their farm animals, collected and stored fall fruits, and prepared for the county fair! For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $6/Person. Registration is required.

The Milk-Makers
Tuesday, July 11, 2–3:30 p.m.
Dairy farmers work hard to bring fresh and wholesome milk products to market. Have an “udderly” fun time on Cow Appreciation Day as we read a story about cows, compare different cow breeds, and learn about life on a dairy farm. Then explore how milk is made into butter, cheese and other yummy products. Wrap up with an ice cream social and taste a "Howling Cow" treat. For ages 7–14, $7/Child. Registration is required. This is a drop off program but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited.
Hand Mills and Millstones
Tuesday, August 22, 10–11 a.m.
Your teeth can’t crack grain! Find out how people made flour from wheat and meal from corn long ago, and try out a variety of ancient-style hand mills. Survey milling history and learn about equipment that has been used around the world to grind grains. For ages 7–14; fee: $4/Child. Registration is required. This is a drop off program but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited. Bundle this program with the Kids' History Detective Mill Tour from 11 a.m. to Noon for the ultimate learning experience.
Animal Tracks and Signs
Tuesday, Sept. 5, 10 a.m.–noon
Hark! Who goes there? Let’s celebrate wildlife by learning to read the tracks and signs animals leave behind. Find out what animals are eating, where they are going, and what they’ve been up to! Observe animals in action on an around-the-pond hike. For ages 7–14; fee: $8/Child. Registration is required. This is a drop off program but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited.

Park Tales

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
Registration is not required.
Gingerbread for Liberty!
Friday, July 7, 11 a.m.–noon
In honor of National Gingersnap Day (celebrated on July 1), come to the park to hear Mara Rockliff's story of Christopher Ludwick, a German immigrant and gingerbread baker who became the Superintendent of Bakers for the American army during the Revolutionary War. Then pick up historic and modern gingerbread recipes and make a gingerbread-related craft to take home!
The Story of the First Corn
Fri, August 18, 11 a.m.–noon
The history of corn, or “maize,” begins at the dawn of human agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. Ancient farmers noticed that some wild corn plants were larger than others, tasted better, or were easier to grind. They saved kernels from these plants and planted them for the next season's harvest. Many Native American tales address the origins of corn. Hear a few of these tales, be a-maize-d by fun corn facts, then make a corny craft to take home.
Night Animals
Friday, Sept. 29, 11 a.m.–noon
Have you ever been afraid of what critters lurk in the night? Well, sometimes possums, skunks, and even wolves get scared, too! Join us for a funny tale by Gianna Marino about nocturnal animals that are afraid of the dark, only to find out that they are night animals themselves! Learn some fun facts about the nocturnal animals in the park and make a paper bag owl craft!
A Summertime Stroll
Saturday, July 1, 9:30–11 a.m.
Stroll along the shaded woodlands surrounding the millpond on a one-mile naturalist-led hike. Learn how shade helps us to stay cool in the heat and use forest plants to get your bearings. Search for summertime wildlife and explore how they cope on warm days. For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration required.
Hot Weather Hiking
Thursday, August 17, 9:30–11 a.m.
Summer means hiking in hot weather. With a bit of planning, you can still hike safely. But you should pay attention to conditions and take precautions to prevent dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Explore the ways you can plan ahead for the heat and care for yourself while outdoors on hot days. Also explore how wildlife deals with the heat. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is required.
Kids Go Outdoors
Wednesday, Sept. 27, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Spend some quality time enjoying the great outdoors with your family while getting some fresh air and exercise. Develop your child’s interest in nature and listen to a park naturalist as they share their knowledge of, and experiences with, nature and wildlife. Learn to move like different animals and sing nature songs. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE! Registration required.

Yates by Night

FALL-ing for Nature
Friday, Sept. 22, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Join a park naturalist for an evening hike to enjoy the sights and sounds of late summer. Learn tips for observing wildlife and find out ways to identify the sounds made by birds, amphibians, and insects as the sun goes down. Also explore fun facts related to the autumnal equinox. For ages 7 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/Person. Proper footwear and registration required.

Recreational Adventures

Country Dancing in the Mill Yard
Saturdays, July 15, Aug. 19, and Sept. 16, noon–12:45 p.m. & 4–4:45 p.m.
Put your dancing shoes on! Come to the mill yard to join our costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter in learning and dancing 19th-century country dances. You don’t need to have a partner to dance—just a willing heart and a desire to learn. No registration is required for this free, drop-in program, which will take place during our first corn grinding weekend of the year.
Paddle the Pond
Saturdays, July 22, Aug. 26, and Sept. 23, 9–10 a.m. and 11 a.m.noon
Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles and life jackets are provided, along with launch assistance. This program is dependent on suitable weather conditions. For ages 5 and up (with an accompanying adult), fee: $10/boat. Each canoe can hold 1–4 people (800-pound total weight limit). Registration required. All participants must sign a program waiver.
Water Balloon Games
Sunday, August 27, 3–4 p.m.
August tends to be the hottest month of the year, but there are ways to stay cool and still be outdoors. Join us for some water balloon popping fun in the open field above the park's amphitheater. We will provide the equipment needed to play some fun water games. To participate, please bring safe water-filled balloons with you and we suggest a towel and a change of clothes. Prepare to get wet! For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required. Participants will be asked to help clean up the balloon carnage.
This camp is FULL, but there is a waitlist.
Monday–Friday, July 17–21, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $170/child
Join us for an adventure camp filled with natural and historical experiences! In addition to park exploration, camp will include local field trips and expert guest speakers. Daily camp themes include (1) Radical Recyclers, (2) Soil Scientists, (3) History Detectives, (4) Field Ecologists and (5) Water Wizards.
Among other activities, Day 1 includes sustainability investigations and upcycled art projects; Day 2 includes a geology lab and fossil find; Day 3 includes a mill tour and archaeological adventures; Day 4 includes a hike in the park and owl pellet dissection; and Day 5 includes canoeing, cane pole fishing and water balloon games. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.
This camp is FULL, but there is a waitlist.
Monday–Friday, July 31–August 4, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Friday, August 4, 6–8 p.m.
Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform the camp play at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on the evening of Friday, August 4.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $180/child
Explore the deep time story of our continent, from its beginning up to now, through Thomas Berry's play entitled "North America, Our Home" (view details here). Explore regional geography and maps while learning about the events that helped to shape the Earth and affected the plants and animals living on it. Also explore animal adaptations and our own place in the magnificent flow of time and creation. Note that this play includes a focus on evolution and the geologic time scale.
Participate as actors, musicians and stage hands in an interactive children’s play and explore a wide variety of performing and visual arts in an environment of encouragement and support. Learn and develop skills in acting, improvisation, movement, stage production and adaptation while performing a theater production. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.

Camps by Others that are Based at the Park

June 19–23, July 10–14 and July 24–28
June 26–30 and July 17–21
June 26–30 and July 10–14




The go-to place for upcoming program and event listings for Historic Yates Mill County Park.

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Created at 7/30/2012 3:31 PM by Rebeccah Cope
Last modified at 6/26/2017 3:25 PM by Rebeccah Cope





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