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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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

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.


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.
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!
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

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

Country Dancing in the Mill Yard
Saturdays, 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.
Paddle the Pond
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.