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:
 
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 yatesmill@wakegov.com.
 
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. 
 

 
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. Event details.
 
 
Yates Mill Associates’ Holiday Sale
Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Yates Mill Associates invites you to their annual holiday sale. Browse an array of gifts including crafts handmade by talented volunteers; Yates Mill souvenir mugs, T-shirts and hats; and cookbooks to inspire your cornmeal cuisine. They’ll have plenty of yellow and white cornmeal ground on Yates Mill’s stones available to purchase for Thanksgiving recipes and Christmas gifts. You’re welcome to order your cornmeal ahead of time by sending an email to cornmeal@yatesmill.org. Just tell them how many bags you’d like of white or yellow cornmeal ($5 per two-pound bag). All proceeds help YMA pay for mill maintenance and operation. November 18 and 19 will also be the last weekend of corn-grinding tours at Yates Mill before they close down for the winter, so stop by the mill for a peek inside as they prepare the winter’s store of meal. www.yatesmill.org
 

 
Take a Photo with Santa at the Old Mill 
Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–3 p.m.
Come have your picture taken with Santa inside Yates Mill. While at the park, play some "reindeer games," try out a variety of old-time toys, enjoy some free seasonal refreshments and shop for handmade crafts. Photo Packages: $15 and up, depending on photo sizes. A digital image will be $35. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. on 12/2 (the day of the photo shoots). Proceeds from the event will benefit Yates Mill Associates’ ongoing efforts to keep Yates Mill operating and open to the public.
 
 
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.
 
History Mysteries
Sundays, Sept. 17, Oct. 22 and Nov. 19, 1–4 p.m.
Artifacts offer a fascinating glimpse into life in the past. Examine pictures of a local artifact, and use clues and your observational skills to discover for yourself what the object is and how it was used historically.
 
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.
 
Fossil Finds
Wednesday–Sunday, Oct. 11–15, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Fossils preserve ancient life from all of Earth's history, and from every major group of animal or plant. Celebrate National Fossil Day by heading to the Finley center to explore the scientific and educational values of fossils, and the natural processes that have shaped our planet over time. Participate in a fossil find activity and learn about the tools that are used by paleontologists to study the history of life on Earth.
 
National Sandwich Day 
Friday–Sunday, Dec. 3–5, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
National Sandwich Day is observed annually on November 3. The sandwich is believed to be the namesake of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, following the claim that he was the inventor of the sandwich. This day honors one of America’s most popular lunch items. Explore how sandwiches are made and what they consist of from diverse cultures around the world and learn why whole grain bread is considered healthier than white bread.
 
The Shortest Day
Thursday–Saturday, Dec. 21–23, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Celebrate this special day by checking out our solstice display, and explore how cultures all over the world celebrate this day with music, food, and festive good cheer.
  

Art in the Park

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
 
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.
 
Fantastic Halloween 
Monday–Wednesday, Oct. 30–Nov. 1, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Do you like things that go bump in the night? Then join us in the park’s Finley Center any time during the day for some spooky crafts to celebrate your fantastic Halloween! We’ll be making our very own trick-or-treat bags, paper plate jack-o-lanterns, and paper bag monster puppets! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE! Registration is not required.
 
Thankfulness Project 
Friday–Sunday, Nov. 24–26, 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 what you’re thankful for! Play a game of “Roll a Turkey,” and take home your very own pine cone turkey craft. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE! Registration is not required.
 
Super Snowflakes 
Friday–Sunday, Dec. 29–31, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
What a lovely sight it is to see snow falling from the sky, so come help us to celebrate the beauty of the winter season by making some pretend snowflakes! Join us in the Finley Center where you can make paper snowflakes and help us decorate our Exhibit Hall for the coming winter! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE! Registration is not 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.

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. *This activity is part of the 12th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration.

The Candy Maker
Saturday, Oct. 21, 1–4 p.m.
Did you know that candy was originally a form of medicine either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat? Due to the high cost of sugar and the specialized knowledge needed to make candy, it did not become widely available in the United States until the early 1800s. Join us to learn about the trade of candy making, taste some penny candy, and take a trip around the globe to explore the world’s favorite sugary treats.
 
The Cooper
Saturday, Nov. 18, 1–4 p.m.
Do you know what job a cooper does? This trade goes back centuries and has remained almost unchanged. Coopers make barrels, casks and buckets. The Tupperware of their day, these wooden containers held flour, gunpowder, beer, distilled beverages and much more. Take the barrel bean bag toss challenge and learn more about this interesting historic trade.
 

A Side of History 

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.
 
Great Ghostly Gourds 
Thursday, Oct. 26, 2–3 p.m.
There’s something about a pumpkin that is absolutely magical! Come discover the story of our favorite autumn gourds and their important role in Halloween. Discover what lies beneath the rind and make a fun pumpkin craft to take home. Then go on a pumpkin hunt! (Please bring comfortable shoes for walking.) For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration is required.
 
The Spirit of Giving
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 10 a.m.–noon

The word philanthropy means love of mankind. From the earliest days, human civilization has depended upon kindness directed towards strangers. Explore the history of giving, then help to cut out and assemble warm fleece blankets for children in need (fleece donations are appreciated). Sewing skills are not required! The blankets will be donated to Project Linus. By helping out, you'll become a "blanketeer"! For ages 6 & up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE! Registration required.
 
Totally Toys
Tuesday, Dec. 19, 10–11 a.m.
Children have been playing with toys and using them to learn important skills for thousands of years. Join us to read a story, explore the kinds of toys children play with around the world, and make a historic toy to take home. Bring your favorite toy to share with the group. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration is required.
   

Milling Around with the Little Red Hen
Monday, Oct. 23, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Get your preschoolers excited about Yates Mill! Relive the beloved story of the Little Red Hen then take a trip to the water mill to gather ingredients for an imaginary loaf of bread. Discover the connection between the Little Red Hen and farm products through hands-on activities, and make a chicken hat craft to take home. For ages 4–6; fee: $6/child. Registration and adult accompaniment required (adult fee/registration is not required).
 
Pilgrims at Play
Tuesday, Nov. 21
Session 1: 10:30 a.m.–noon and Session 2: 2–3:30 p.m.
Ever wonder what it was like to be a kid at the First Thanksgiving? Come to Yates Mill and find out! Play 17th century games, learn to talk like a pilgrim, and create a first Thanksgiving food collage to take home. Also explore what the First Thanksgiving was really like in 1621 for the Pilgrims and Wampanoag in New England. For ages 7 and up; $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited.
 
The Ingalls Long Winter
Friday, Dec. 22
Session 1: 10:30 a.m.–noon and Session 2: 2–3:30 p.m.
Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family really had to tough it out. Learn what the family did to survive one especially long winter and find out how the family celebrated Christmas. Taste an old-fashioned peppermint candy stick and bring home a homemade holiday craft. If you want to, come dressed in your best pioneer outfit! For ages 7 and up; $6/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.
 
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!
 
Mouse’s First Halloween
Monday, Oct. 30, 11 a.m.–noon
One dark fall night, Mouse creeps out and hears strange sounds and sees spooky sights. What could it mean? Don’t worry, Mouse—it’s Halloween! Join us for a fun yet spooky tale by Lauren Thompson as we follow Mouse on his evening explorations. Then decorate your own mini-pumpkin using various craft supplies. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required.
 
Bear Says Thanks
Friday, Nov. 24, 11 a.m.–noon
Bear has the perfect way to say thanks—a nice, big dinner! But Bear’s cupboards are bare so what is he to do? It turns out his friends come through. Karma Wilson’s playful text and Jane Chapman’s charming illustrations bring to life this endearing story about animals who celebrate their friendship with one another. Come celebrate what you’re thankful for and take home an adorable Thanksgiving-themed craft. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required.
 
Stranger in the Woods
Friday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.–noon
A stranger arrives after a winter storm and the wildlife wonders about him. Come enjoy this mysterious tale by Carl. R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, and hear how the curious animals that live in the woods were perplexed by the snowman that appeared after the snow finished falling. Learn about animals during the winter, take a short winter wildlife walk in the woods, and make your very own cotton-ball snowman to take home! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not 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.
 
The Fruits of Fall
Saturday, Oct. 7, 11 a.m.–noon
Forest fruits grow in a variety of forms, such as nuts, pods, capsules and achenes that entice the wild animals that disperse them. Experience the colors and scents of autumn on this naturalist-guided hike, where we’ll examine fruits found in the park and explore how seeds are naturally distributed. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration required.
 
Fall Foliage Hike
Saturday, Nov. 4, 11 a.m.–noon
Ever wonder why Mother Nature puts on such a display of colors in the fall – from bright yellow and orange, to rusty red and purple? Explore this amazing annual event during a guided hike and discover what these natural colors tell us about the environment. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration required.
 
Winter Wonders Walk
Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m.–noon
Winter is coming! Take a walk with a naturalist to explore the seasonal changes that can be observed in nature, discover how various kinds of wildlife prepare for the cold, and look for animal tracks and other wildlife signs. Make sure to dress in layers! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE! Preregistration is 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.
 
Creatures of the Night
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 5–6 p.m.
Come out to the park for a family adventure after dark. Use your ears and your night-adapted eyes to spy on the creatures of the night, and learn how nocturnal animals get ready for winter. Wear sturdy shoes and bundle up, since it gets chilly once the sun goes down!  For ages 6 & up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration is required.
 

Recreational Adventures

Country Dancing in the Mill Yard 
Saturdays, Sept. 16*, Oct. 21, and Nov. 18, noon–12:45 p.m. and 44:45 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 takes place monthly during corn grinding weekends. *This activity is part of the 12th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration.
 
Paddle the Pond
Saturday, Sept. 23
Session 1: 9–10 a.m. and Session 2: 11 a.m.noon
Saturday, Oct. 28, Session 1: 10–11 a.m. and Session 2: 1–2 p.m.
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.