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!
 You can register for public programs online at your convenience and
pay for them with a credit/debit card.
Learn more under How to Register.

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 July–September 2019 Bulletin is coming soon. Meanwhile, the individual programs for this quarter of the year are listed below.
The following programs are offered at Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh. For more information, contact the park at 919-856-6675 or email yatesmill@wakegov.com.
Our staff also offers public programs at Crowder County Park.
Check out the Crowder programs page for details.
Do you want to see Wake County's last remaining water-powered gristmill in action?
Guided mill tours and corn-grinding demonstrations with 19th-century costumed guides take place on the third weekend of each month through November. Details are on our Mill Tours page.
Capitol Independence Day Celebration 
Thursday, July 4, 11 a.m.–3 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.
14th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration 
Saturday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

This family-oriented event includes corn-milling demonstrations and costumed tours of Yates Mill, and other event activities, including a fun children’s scavenger hunt activity, live music and dance, storytellers, community displays, hand-craft demonstrations and sales, antique vehicles, farm tools, food vendors and more! For all ages; FREE, although there is a $3–$5 fee for mill tours. Registration not required. Parking will be off site with a free shuttle.
For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is not required. Stop by the Finley Center exhibit hall anytime during the program time.
The Longest Summer Day 
FridaySunday, June 21–23, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty suncatcher to hang in your window. 
Teddy Bears Picnic 
Wednesday–Sunday, July 10–14; 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 written 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
Friday–Sunday, Aug. 16–18, 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.

The Autumnal Equinox
Monday–Wednesday, Sept. 23–25, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when 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); FREE. 
Build a Scarecrow Day
Monday, July 29, 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! Help us protect our garden by helping to build a few spooky scarecrows for the park. We will provide the clothes and straw needed, although contributions are welcome. Registration is required.


Seasons on a Farm

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Free agricultural table-top displays are offered on the third Sunday of each month, March through November, in the mill yard when the mill is open for tours and grinding corn. Explore what tasks 19th-century farmers and their families would be doing each month as part of their life on a farm. For all ages. Registration is not required.
Saving Seeds
Saturday, July 20, 1–5 p.m., and Sunday, July 21, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Learn how farmers saved seeds from each year’s harvest so that they would be able to raise crops the next year. Learn about traditional ways of saving seeds; find out what people are doing today to save heirloom seeds for the future; then make some seed art to take home!
Preserving Food in the 1800s
Saturday, Aug. 17, 1–5 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 18, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
In August, discover how farmers preserved their food in the days before refrigeration. Learn about drying, pickling, canning and other inventive techniques; study the results of an apple preservation experiment to decide which liquid works best; and take home traditional preservation recipes to try at home.
Bringing in the Harvest
Saturday, Sept. 21*, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 22, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

In September, learn how farmers harvested crops like wheat before the invention of mechanized harvesters; try threshing wheat by hand; and make a craft to take home!
*This is the day of our 14th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration—the park’s largest event of the year.

A Side of History

Feathers, Fashion, and Conservation
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 11 a.m.–noon
The year 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the death of the last known Carolina Parakeet, as well as the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Migratory Bird Act. Discover the historical reasons for the passage of this law and how the use of feathers to decorate women’s hats was one of the causes of overhunting; learn how the law has allowed certain bird species to recover; and make some fun crafts to take home. For ages 5 & up; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

For ages 7–14; FREE. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
Simple Machines & Power Trains
Tuesday, July 2, 10–11 a.m.
Explore the simple machines that are employed in Yates Mill that help to efficiently get work done, including the wheel and axle, gears, pulleys, screws, inclined planes, wedges and levers. Explore each type through fun, self-guided stations. Note that a History Detective Mill Tour is offered from 11 a.m. to noon – we encourage you to sign up for it for the ultimate program experience.

Inventors and U.S. Patents
Monday, Aug. 12, 10:30 a.m.–noon
All great inventions start out as merely ideas, and some even happen by accident. Hear invention stories, including the story of Oliver Evans, who invented the automated milling system used at Yates Mill; learn about the U.S. Patent System; and do some inventing of your own.

Birds of a Feather
Monday, Sept. 30, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Birds come in many shapes, sizes and colors and have many neat behaviors. Explore the birds found around the millpond and their diverse habitats through several fun activities. Discover how to effectively use binoculars to spot birds in the landscape and to identify them by their seasonal calls.

Park Tales

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
Registration is required for all participants – adults and children. Maximum number of participants: 36 (this is how many seats we have in the classroom).
Gingerbread for Liberty!
Friday, July 5, 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!
Apple Seeds and Orchard Fun
Friday, Aug. 30, 11 a.m.–noon
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.

Harvest-time for the Ingalls
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 11 a.m.–noon

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!


Natural Explorations

For all ages unless otherwise noted; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
A Midsummer Day Dream
Friday, June 21, 11 a.m.–noon
What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not guaranteed), explore the astronomical aspects of Midsummer's Day, and hear a few quotes from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Seed Searches
Saturday, July 20, 1:30–2:30 p.m.

Beauty and sophisticated design are not hard to find in nature. Join us for a shaded walk around the millpond in search of summer seeds and learn about their diverse structures and dispersal strategies.
Hot Weather Hiking
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 9–10 a.m.
With a bit of planning, you can still hike safely in hot weather. 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. For ages 6 and up.

Forest Bathing
Friday, Sept. 27, 9–10 a.m.

 “Shinrin-yoku” is a Japanese healing technique which means "taking in the forest atmosphere." Developed in the 1980s, it has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing. Join us as we visit a natural area in the park and walk in a relaxed way to receive calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits. For ages 8 & up.

Yates by Night

Raccoon Platoon
Friday, Sept. 13, 7–8:30 p.m.
Raccoons are such adaptable creatures and live in a wide range of climates and habitats. You won’t be able to mask your enjoyment of the bushy-tailed bandit’s skills and antics – plus, they eat just about anything! Enjoy a raccoon-themed activity, then head out into the park in search of these ring-tailed night mammals. For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration is required for all family members.

Recreational Adventures

Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
Paddle the Pond
Saturdays, July 27, Aug. 24, and Sept. 28
First Session: 9–10 a.m.
Second Session: 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); FREE. Each canoe can hold 1–4 people (800-pound total weight limit). Registration PER BOAT is required. All participants must sign a program waiver.


Summer Camps – Registration opens February 1

Yates Mill’s camps offer your child hands-on history and nature activities including tours of the old mill, visits with live animals, hikes, crafts, games and more. There will be two adults with the kids at all times. Kids bring their own snacks and lunch.
Preregistration is required. Camp size is limited (maximum of 12 participants), so sign up early!

To check for space availability, go to Wake County's online registration site or contact the park by phone at 919-856-6675 or by email at yatesmill@wakegov.com.

I. Mill Theater & Art Camp: The Beaver's Tail

Monday–Friday, June 24–28, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Drop-off program for ages 7–12; fee: $162/child

Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform on the afternoon of Friday, June 28.

Once upon a time, there was a beaver that loved to brag about his tail, which was thick with silky fur, not wide and flat like it is today. Beaver spent a lot of time grooming it, while the other woodland creatures went about their business of finding food and shelter for their families. Eventually Beaver's boasting drives away his friends and he is left on his own. But when his tail is flattened in an accident, Beaver learns to value its new shape and seeks to make amends with his friends.

Participate as actors and musicians 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 an original mill theater production. No experience required – just bring your high energy and enthusiasm!

II. Park Adventures Summer Camp

Monday–Friday, July 15–19, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $152/child

This adventure camp allows participants to gain a sense of accomplishment by attaining goals in a unique historical setting and diverse natural environment. Daily camp themes include (1) Early Explorers, (2) Pioneer-Farmers & Agriculture, (3) Millers & Mechanics, (4) History Detectives, and (5) Artist-Naturalists & Ecology.

Among other activities, Day 1 includes a hike around the park, mapping activities, and animal tracks and signs; Day 2 includes a planting activity and visits to a local organic farm; Day 3 includes a mill tour and an inventors workshop with simple machines; Day 4 includes a road trip to the NC Museum of History, historic field games, and artifact discovery; and Day 5 includes wildlife art, pond dipping, canoeing and cane pole fishing.


Camps at Yates Mill Offered by Other Organizations:

Center for Human-Earth Restoration

Youth Unlimited Programs