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 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.

Frankie Turns 15!



A Birthday Party for Frankie 
Monday, Jan. 27, 2:30–4 p.m.
Frankie the Turtle is a Yellow-bellied Slider who lives in the park center and is happy to be visited by park goers of all ages. He was donated to the park in January 2015 when he was ten years old. A local family had raised him from when he was very young and he cannot be released to the wild. Staff tries to provide him with the best living situation possible and would like to celebrate his 15th birthday with both him and you! Join us for some turtle-themed party games and enjoy some birthday cake while Frankie gets some fishy treats! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is required for everyone.

The Great Backyard Bird Count



A Year of Birding at Yates Mill Pond 
Friday–Monday, Feb. 14–17, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Come by the park center any time during the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count to view a free slideshow of the birds of Yates Mill Pond. Over 150 photographs of birds are featured in the show, along with a few cool mammals. This slideshow, which has accompanying music, was put together a few years ago by photographer Paula Page.

Love Birds
Friday, Feb. 14, 10–11:30 a.m.
Explore how birds begin courtship displays to attract mates and warn off rivals, and also what they do to set up house. Experience the abundance of bird life that is found in the park by heading outdoors with a park naturalist to see who's flapping about. Binoculars may be borrowed to get the best "bird's-eye view.” For all ages; FREE. Registration is required.

Afternoon Backyard Bird Count
Monday, Feb. 17, 2–3:30 p.m.
Join a park naturalist on a one-mile hike around Yates Mill Pond and help to identify and count the birds that we see along the way. Learn how to identify backyard birds by sight, sound, and other signs. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is not required.

Discovery Table: National Birds  
Monday–Wednesday, Feb. 17–19; 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Is it true that Turkey and Eagle once faced off to see who would be our national bird? Find out the answer and discover the natural characteristics that made each bird a contender. Celebrate Presidents Day and the Great Backyard Bird Count in one fell swoop! Learn about the use of birds in national symbols and make your own bird-themed Great Seal to take home. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.


14th Annual Mill as Muse Community Art and Photography Contests




Mill as Muse Contests Deadline
Sunday, Feb. 9, entries due before 5 p.m.
Share your artistic creations by entering the park’s annual community art and photography contests. Contest rules will be posted by January 6, 2020. The contests include youth and adult categories with mill, nature, and people in the park as subjects. Contest entries may be turned in at the front desk of the Finley Center between Saturday, Feb. 1, and Sunday, Feb. 9, before 5 p.m.


Mill as Muse Award Ceremony & Reception 
Friday, Feb. 21, 6–7:30 p.m.
Yates Mill has served as a source of artistic inspiration for more than two centuries and continues to be the subject of numerous local works of art. Help us to celebrate the opening of the park’s 14th annual community art and photography exhibit, applaud the art and photography contest winners, and meet some of the artists. For all ages; FREE. Light refreshments will be served. Registration is not required.

Mill as Muse Community Art & Photography Exhibit 
Saturday–Sunday, Feb. 22–23, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Many of our visitors find artistic inspiration in Yates Mill and the surrounding parkland. Park staff host this annual competition and exhibition to give community members a chance to show off their skills and to celebrate the beauty of the mill and park. Contest winners will be announced on February 21 and all contest entries will be on display in the park’s Finley Center exhibit hall throughout the weekend. Winning entries will remain on display for two months.
 
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 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.

New Year Celebrations around the World 
Thursday–Sunday, Jan. 2-5, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Happy New Year! In America we celebrate the new year on January 1, but did you know that in China they celebrate the new year a bit later in the year? Learn about new year traditions around the world and make a Chinese New Year's lantern to take home. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.

Wizened Woodchucks & Weather Predictors 
Saturday–Monday, February 1–3, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel, and can animals really help? Come to the Finley Center to put our colonial weather proverbs to the test and make a pop-up woodchuck puppet to take home. Also check out some at-home weather equipment you can make with recycled and natural materials. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.

The Vernal Equinox 
Thursday–Sunday, March 19–22, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The Vernal Equinox signals the beginning of spring. 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; learn about seasonal folklore and related historical traditions; and make a fun craft to take home! For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.
  

Art in the Park

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE
 
Super Snowflakes
Thursday–Sunday, Dec. 26–29, 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 some paper snowflakes and help us decorate our Exhibit Hall for the coming winter! Registration is not required.

Mill as Muse Creative Art Session 
Sunday, Feb. 2, 1–3 p.m.
Explore your artistic side by creating a work of art to take home or to enter the Mill as Muse art contest (entries due by Feb. 9). A variety of inspirational arts and crafts materials will be provided, and a brief slide show will be shown featuring artistic creations related to Yates Mill. Come anytime during the program time-frame. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all participants, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
This display is offered on the first day of the 2020 corn grinding demonstrations.
Farriers 
Saturday, March 21, 
1–4 p.m.
"Shoe shoddy fellow fine, can you shoe this horse of mine?" They can if they're a farrier! Traditionally the work of a farrier's would have included horseshoeing, the fabrication and repair of tools, the forging of architectural pieces, and more, while modern day farriers usually focus their efforts on the care of horses' hooves. Explore this unique trade and how the job of the farrier is different from a blacksmith and see some of the tools involved in this job. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.


A Side of History

Totally Toys
Friday, Dec. 20, 11 a.m.–noon
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 an old-time toy to take home. Bring your favorite toy to show to the group. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone, and adult accompaniment is required for all children.

The Legends of Saint Valentine
Saturday, Feb. 8, 11 a.m.–noon
Every February 14, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England. Then create a Valentine's Day card to give to a special someone. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment. 
 

Registration is required. Only attending children need to be registered. Accompanying adults are welcome to stay or to drop off these participating children. Other siblings may not attend.
 
The Ingalls’ Long Winter
Friday, Dec. 27, 10:30 a.m.–noon
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 7–14; FREE. 

History Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Explore the park while learning about the history, geography, hydrology, and environment around Yates Mill Pond. Learning about the past and exploring the mill’s history can help us to understand how we can live better lives and support our communities. While this program does not include a tour inside the old mill, we will check out the mill dam, rock outcrop, and waterfall. For ages 7–14; FREE.  

Animal Tracks and Signs
Monday, Feb. 10, 1–3 p.m.
Hark! Who goes there? Let us 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! Then observe animals in action on a guided hike. For ages 7–14; FREE. 

Milling Around with the Little Red Hen 
Monday, March 9, 10:30 a.m.–noon
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, then make a chicken hat craft to take home. For ages 4–6; $3/child (these funds support the old mill). 


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).

Backyard Beetles
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Have you found yourself wanting to take a closer look in the forest? We will learn about the parts of insects, explore where they live, and go on a ground safari. Join an old park ranger to hear a beetle tale and discover the life under the leaves. We will be outdoors for the whole program. Bring water and wear long pants and socks. Be prepared for all weather. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone, and adult accompaniment is required for all children. Maximum: 20 people

The Snowy Day
Wednesday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m.–noon
Join us as we read Ezra Jack Keats’ beautiful book about a young boy’s adventures in the snow. Learn some of the history behind this Caldecott Award-winning book, discover fun facts about snow, and make crafts inspired by the book’s illustrations! For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

The Six Swans 
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m.–noon
The Six Swans is an ancient German fairy tale that was documented by the Brothers Grimm. In the story, to save her brothers, a princess may not speak until a curse is broken. Find out how she manages to save herself and her brothers just in the nick of time, then explore the nature of swans and make a swan craft to take home. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

The Little Wood Duck
Tuesday, March 24, 11 a.m.–noon
The Wood Ducks are nesting and hatchlings are on the way! Join us for an endearing story about a little duck that was born slightly different from his siblings. This story by Brian Wildsmith teaches the importance of sensitivity and individuality. Learn about Wood Ducks and make a fun duck craft! Then take a short hike to look at their habitats. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.


Natural Explorations

For all ages unless otherwise noted; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Winter Wonders Walk
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2–3 p.m.
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); FREE. Registration is required.

Animals in Winter
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2–3:30 p.m.
Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals deal with cold weather and which ones hibernate during the winter months. Play some fun games and take a short hike to look for signs of wintering animals. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment. 

Winter Boundary Hike 
Friday, Feb. 7, 2–4 p.m. 
Have you ever wondered what the less seen areas of the park look like? Join us for an afternoon hike off-trail as we walk some of the boundary areas and look for things of interest. Use local maps and test your orientation skills, as we walk through rough terrain in search of wildlife and other winter wonders. For ages 10 & up; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment. Please wear good hiking boots and be dressed for the cold outdoors. 

Welcome Spring!
Friday, March 20, 2–3 p.m.
Celebrate the coming of spring by going on a sensory hike around the millpond with a park naturalist. While exploring park wildlife, learn about the history, cultural traditions, and science associated with the Vernal Equinox. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.


Yates by Night

Full Moon Exploration
Thursday, Dec. 12, 4:30–6 p.m.
Come join us to discover the Full Moon in the sky at Historic Yates Mill. Join a naturalist to discover fun things about our celestial body closest to the earth and, if we are lucky, we can look at the moon with a telescope. Feel free to bring a pair of binoculars and a blanket. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is required.

Signs of Spring 
Saturday, March 28, 7–8 p.m.
Go on a night hike with a park naturalist to test your sensory skills after dark. We will hike past the pond's edge and through forests, wetlands, and fields to discover what happens in these habitats at night. The air will be crisp and the land will be alive with night sounds. Come prepared for a fun and engaging spring nighttime adventure! For ages 6 and up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is required.
 

Recreational Adventures

A Poppin' Good Time!
Sunday, Jan. 19, 2–3 p.m.
Celebrate National Popcorn Day at Yates Mill! Learn about different varieties of corn and what gives popcorn that unique POP. Take part in a creative popcorn-themed craft and enjoy some fresh-popped popcorn. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.