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.
Capitol Independence Day Celebration
Wednesday, 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. This family-friendly event features a naturalization ceremony for new citizens, musical performances, food and historic demonstrations. Admission is free. Details here
13th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m.–3 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, storytellers, 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. Parking will be off site with a free shuttle.
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.
The Longest Summer Day
Wednesday–Friday, June 20–22, 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.
Rich in the Rare
June 30-August 12, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Come to Historic Yates Mill to see a new temporary exhibit, Rich in the Rare, on loan from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This six-panel exhibit showcases some of North Carolina’s rare plant and animal species and highlights some of the state’s unique habitats, from the mountains to the coast. It also explores what people can do to help protect wildlife and the environment. Children will enjoy playing with interactive materials such as a toy loggerhead turtle nest and park ranger dolls.
Teddy Bears Picnic
Tuesday, July 10–Thursday, July 12, 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
Thursday, Aug. 16, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Let's get serious now. We are not kidding. August 16 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
Friday–Sunday, Sept. 21–23, 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); fee: FREE. Children must have adult accompaniment.
Incredible Insects
Saturday–Monday, June 23–25, anytime between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The summer heat is back, and so are the insects! Join us in the Finley Center exhibit hall to do some fun insect-themed crafts. We will make butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs and other insect friends! Learn cool bug facts and go on a scavenger hunt to observe insects in nature. Registration is not required.

Build a Scarecrow Day
Sunday, 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.
Project Friendship Day
Friday–Sunday, Aug. 3–5, 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 5. A variety of artistic materials will be provided to help you to express your vision of friendship and goodwill. Registration is not required.

Apple Seeds and Orchard Fun
Sunday, Sept. 23, 1–2 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. Registration is required.


Free historic trade displays 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 Printer
Saturday, June 16, 1–4 p.m.
Mill owner William Boylan was involved in many enterprises, including journalism. He moved to Fayetteville in 1796 to join his uncle who published newspapers and, in 1799, to Raleigh, where he published the Minerva. The productivity of presses increased over time because of improvements in press construction and the use of steam power. Explore the technological evolution of the printing press and "print" your own card to take home.

Ice Suppliers & Tradesmen
Saturday, July 14, 1–4 p.m.

Cool summer treats such as 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.
Apiarists & Bee Business
Saturday, Aug. 18, 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 work, 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.
The Farm Family
Saturday, Sept. 15*, 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 is the day of our 13th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration – the park's largest event of the year.

Seasons on a Farm

Free agricultural 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. For all ages. Registration is not required.
Soap Making and Butter Churning
Sunday, June 17, between 1–5 p.m.
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. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a tabletop display about what tasks 19th-century farmers and their families would be doing each month as part of their life on a farm. In June, learn about common household chores that were important to daily life, such as making soap and churning butter, then try your hand at making butter in a jar!

Saving Seeds

Sunday, July 15, 1–5 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
Sunday, Aug. 19, 1–5 p.m.
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
Sunday, Sept. 16, 1–5 p.m.

Learn how farmers harvested crops such as wheat before the invention of mechanized harvesters, try threshing wheat by hand and make a craft to take home!


A Side of History

Flag Day Fun
Thursday, June 14, 4–5 p.m.
Celebrate Flag Day by delving into the history and lore of the American flag at Historic Yates Mill, which has been around since before the American Revolution. Explore the more than 30 national flag designs that have been used over time, and learn to cut out a five-pointed star like Betsy Ross. For ages 5 & up; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

Yankee Doodle Dandy
Tuesday, July 3, 3–4 p.m.
Explore Independence Day 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: $4/person. Registration is required.

Lighting the Way
Tuesday, Aug. 7, 10–11:30 a.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. Make your own model lighthouse and other crafts to take home. For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $6/person. Registration is required.

Harvest-time for the Ingalls'
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2–3:30 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.


Geology Rocks!this program is full
Monday, June 4, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks are everywhere! Come explore the rocks of Yates Mill through hands-on science. Test the physical and chemical components to discover the identity of rocks, then play the rock cycle game. Learn how rocks have been used in milling grains, and try out a few hand mills before taking a hike to the mill dam to discover its geologic foundation. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.

Animal Tracks and Signs
Friday, July 6, 10:30 a.m.–noon
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 an around-the-pond hike. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited.

The Milk-Makers
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Dairy farmers work hard to bring fresh and wholesome milk products to market. Have an udderly fun time as we read a story about cows, compare 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.

Invent It! Inventors and the Patent System
Wednesday, Sept. 19, 10–11 a.m.**
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. Be sure to bring your creativity and wear your thinking caps. For ages 7–14, $4/child. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay—however, seating is limited.
**Note that a History Detective Mill Tour is offered from 11 a.m. to noon—we encourage you to sign up for that, as well, for the ultimate program experience.

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: 40.
Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleepthis program is full
Friday, June 8, 11 a.m.–noon
If you followed a squirrel for a day, what would you see? Climbing branches, storing seeds, making homes in tree holes, and maybe even flying! Visit us at the park for “Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep,” by April Pulley Sayre, for an adorable story that takes you into the fascinating world of squirrels. Learn some fun, squirrelly facts and make a fun squirrel craft to take home.

The Snake’s Diary
Monday, July 16, 11 a.m.–noon
Slither on over on World Snake Day for an adorable story that follows the new life of a baby snake! We will read "The Snake’s Diary," by Ella Clarke and Josh Gershman. In the story, baby Little Yellow desperately wants to be big and green, but realizes there are advantages to being little and yellow. Little Yellow’s diary takes us along his journey of growing, month to month. We will learn cool facts about North Carolina’s snakes and do some snake crafts!

Mouse and Lion
Friday, Aug. 10, 11 a.m.–noon
Mouse and Lion, Aesop's fabled duo, renew their ancient bond in this warm retelling by Rand Burkert that features Ekholm Burkert's illustrations. A lion threatens a mouse that wakes him, and the mouse begs forgiveness. The lion agrees and sets the mouse free. Later, when the lion is in trouble, the mouse helps it out, remembering the mercy it had received. Join us to listen to this iconic and ancient story, learn the history of Aesop’s fables, and take home a neat craft!

Sneetches on the Beaches
Friday, Sept. 7, 11 a.m.–noon
Join us for a Dr. Seuss Classic about the Sneetches, which are odd, yellow birds living on a beach that learn a lesson about the importance of individuality. Star-bellied Sneetches are part of the in-crowd, while Plain-bellied Sneetches are shunned. Later the birds realize that being a Star-bellied Sneetch didn’t make them any better than other sneetches. Hear the fun tale, then make some sneetch-themed crafts to take home!
A Midsummer Day Dream
Thursday, June 21, 4–5 p.m.
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." For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members and children must have adult accompaniment.
A Summertime Stroll
Saturday, July 7, 10:30 a.m.–noon
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 is required.
Forest Bathing
Monday, Aug. 13, 8:30–10 a.m.

There exists a Japanese healing technique that is called “Shinrin-yoku,” which means "taking in the forest atmosphere." It was developed in the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. 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 10 & up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is required.

Kids Go Outdoors (part of "Take a Child Outside")
Sunday, Sept. 30, 4:30–6 p.m.
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 by learning to move and make sounds like different animals, then go on a nature scavenger hunt to search for park wildlife. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE! Registration is required.

Yates by Night

The Mysterious Lives of Lightning Bugs
Friday, June 1, 7:30–8:30 p.m.
Learn about the life cycle of the firefly and discover what makes a firefly glow, as well as what species are found in the Raleigh area and how to identify fireflies by their flashes. Weather permitting, the program will move outside so that participants will be able to observe fireflies in action and try to communicate with each other using firefly code. For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.

Oh, Those Summer Nights
Friday, Aug. 24, 7:30–8:30 p.m.

Celebrate the end of the "dog days of summer" by joining a park naturalist for an evening hike around the millpond. Learn tips for observing wildlife and find out ways to identify the sounds made by birds, amphibians and insects as the sun goes down. For ages 7 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Proper footwear and registration are required.

Recreational Adventures

Messing About with Boatthis program has been canceled
Saturday, May 26, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Ratty, Badger and Mr. Toad love spending leisurely summer days going boating. Folks coming to Yates Mill did, too! One never knows what sorts of adventures a simple day on the water can bring. Hear some of "The Wind in the Willows" story while making your own crafty model boat, then test it out on the actual pond! We'll pose for pictures with our "Mill Pond Regatta." For ages 6 & up; fee: $2/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

Country Dancing in the Mill Yard
Saturdays, June 16, July 14, Aug. 18 & Sept. 15*, 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 do not 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. *This is the day of our 13th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration.
National Go Fishing Day Fun
Monday, June 18, 11 a.m.–noon
Come out to the millpond and fish the old-fashioned way – we'll provide you with a cane pole, tackle and bait, along with basic instructions and assistance with identifying fish species. You'll need to bring your own luck and patience! For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.

Paddle the Pond
Saturday, June 23, 3–4 p.m.
Saturdays, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sep. 22, 9–10 a.m. & 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, Aug. 26, 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 water games. To participate, please bring safe, water-filled balloons with you. We also suggest a towel and a change of clothes. Prepare to get wet! For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Participants will be asked to help clean up the balloon carnage.

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. Each day offers a different theme. There will be two adults with the kids at all times. Kids bring their own lunch and snacks. Preregistration is required. Camp size is limited (maximum of 12 participants), so sign up early!
Mill Theater & Art Camp – sorry, this camp is full
Monday–Friday, June 25–29, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 6–12; fee: $180/child

What do you think a ride to the Old Mill felt like, and what might be seen along the way? Make history come to life in this full-bodied transportation exploration. 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! Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform at the park on the afternoon of Friday, June 29. 
Park Adventures – sorry, this camp is full
Monday–Friday, July 23–27, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $170/child

This adventure camp allows participants to gain a sense of accomplishment by attaining goals in a unique historical setting and diverse natural environment. Participants will learn about North Carolina conservation from the mountains to the sea! Daily camp themes include: (1) Becoming Conservationists, (2) North Carolina Piedmont, (3) North Carolina Coastal Plain and Mountains, (4) Improving Habitats and (5) Natural Discoveries.

Among other activities, Day 1 includes a hike around the park, animal track making and various science activities to show the importance of biodiversity; Day 2 includes a chance for participants to interact with live animals and to take a tour of the old mill; Day 3 will include an estuary workshop, a section on Loggerhead Sea Turtles, rock discovery, canoeing and fishing; Day 4 participants will learn how to develop backyard habitats and will get to take a trip to the Prairie Ridge Eco-Station; and Day 5 will include a trip to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and a chance to discover the Naturalist Center.
Summer Camps at Yates Mill by Other Organizations:
Camp Wind Eagle: June 18–22 and June 25–29, 2018
June 18–22 and July 9–13, 2018