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!
Scroll down or select a program series below to learn more about our offerings:
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 July-September Program Bulletin is coming soon!
Meanwhile, please look below for the July–Sept. program listings.
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 email@example.com
Our staff also offers public programs at Crowder District Park.
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
Capitol Independence Day Celebration
Monday, July 4, noon–6 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. Learn more
11th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday, September 17, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
This family-oriented event includes corn grinding demonstrations and costumed tours of Yates Mill between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and other event activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 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! Registration not required.
Saturday, July 23, 3–4:30 p.m.
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 5 and up (accompanying adult required for children ages 6 & under); fee: $6/child. Registration required.
Water Balloon Games
Saturday, August 6, 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 fun water games. To participate, please bring safe water-filled balloons with you, and we suggest a towel and a change of clothes. Prepare to get wet! For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required. Participants will be asked to help clean up the balloon carnage.
Saturday, August 27, 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.
Saturday, September 3, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Find your way to the park to participate in an orienteering adventure. Track your way through the woods with the help of the sun's light and the earth's magnetic field. Use a compass to navigate your way through an obstacle course and to find hidden treasure. Make maps and memories! For ages 8 & up; fee: $6/person. Registration required.
Teddy Bears Picnic
Sunday, July 10, 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required.
National Tell a Joke Day
Tuesday, August 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required.
Sundays, July 17, August 21 and September 18, 1–4 p.m.
The Yates Mill Museum needs your help! Staff found a strange artifact that came from the park site that needs to be studied and identified. Use clues and your observational skills to discover for yourself what object of the past is being displayed and what the artifact must have been used for historically. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required. Stop by the Finley Center exhibit hall anytime during the program time.
The Autumn Equinox
Thursday, September 22, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The Autumn 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required.
Build a Scarecrow Day
Sunday, July 3, 3–5 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 to protect our garden by helping to build a few spooky scarecrows for the park. We will provide the clothes and straw needed. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required. Head to the Andrews Classroom in the Finley Center.
Summer Blooms at Yates Millpond
Sunday, August 28, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the spring season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center reception desk to make a few paper flowers and then help to decorate the center with them. Come out anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE! Registration not required.
Sunday, September 25, 3–4 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 ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment needed for all children); fee: FREE. Registration 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.
Saturday, July 16, 1–4 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. For all ages, FREE. Registration not required. Head to the mill yard anytime during the program time.
Soldiers & Militiamen
Saturday, August 20, 1–4 p.m.
Millers were not often soldiers, but in times of war everyone had to do their part. Discover Yates Mill’s revolutionary past and its role in the Civil War, and how the mill’s owners helped to protect their new country. Head to the open field above the park’s amphitheater to try on a soldier’s uniform and to participate in a military muster, with assistance from the re-enactors of the 6th North Carolina State Troops. For all ages, FREE. Registration not required.
Harvest Event Artisans
Saturday, September 17, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Historic tradesmen and tradeswomen earned their expertise through apprenticeships over many years of work. Modern craftspeople learn their skills in much the same ways that their predecessors did. A variety of artisans and crafts demonstrations will be featured during the park's 11th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required.
Saturday, July 2, 3–4 p.m.
Rev up your July 4th celebration 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: FREE. Registration not required.
Sunday, August 7, 2:30–4 p.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. Play a lighthouse game and make your own model lighthouse to take home. For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for children ages 6 & under); fee: $6/person. Registration required.
Saturday, September 3, 2:30–4 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 children ages 6 & under); fee: $6/person. Registration required.
Thursday, July 14, 2–3:30 p.m.
Dairy farmers work hard to bring fresh and wholesome milk products to market. Have an "udderly" fun time on Cow Appreciation Day as we read a story about cows, compare different 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 5–14 (adult accompaniment required for children ages 6 & under), $7/child. Registration required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited.
Tuesday, August 23, 10–11 a.m.
Your teeth can't crack grain! Find out how people made flour from wheat and meal from corn long ago, and try out a variety of ancient-style hand mills. Survey milling history and learn about equipment that has been used around the world to grind grains. For ages 7–14; fee: $4/child. Registration required. This is a drop off program but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited. Bundle this program with the Kids' History Detective Mill Tour from 11 a.m. to noon for the ultimate learning experience.
Tuesday, August 23, 11 a.m.–noon
Do you have what it takes to be a History Detective? Come to Yates Mill and find out! Hunt for clues and investigate the mystery of milling with real historical artifacts inside Wake County's only remaining water-powered gristmill. For ages 7–14; fee: $4/Child. Registration required. This is a drop-off program – adults may escort their kids to the mill yard and back, but only paid tour participants will be given mill access. Bundle this tour with the Homeschool Day "Hand Mills & Millstones" program taking place from 10–11 a.m. for the ultimate learning experience.
Thursday, September 29, 2–4 p.m.
Hark! Who goes there? Learn 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! Observe animals in action on an around-the-pond hike. For ages 8–14; fee: $8/child. Registration required. This is a drop-off program – adults are welcome to stay, but seating in the classroom is limited.
Friday, July 1, 4:30–5:30 p.m.
The turtle shell isn't like any other protective element of any living animal: it's not an exoskeleton like insects have, nor is it made of hardened scales like armadillos. It's not made of skin and it can't be removed. How did this very common animal end up with such a unique feature? Meet in the park center auditorium to find out the facts, hear turtle tales, and examine real turtle shells up close. Meet "Frankie the Turtle" then head to the Pond Boardwalk to search for live turtles in the park. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required.
Friday, August 5, 4:30–5:30 p.m.
Now is the most sultry period of Summer, known as the "Dog Days" because this time happens during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the Sun. Avoid the laze, get out of your daze and come and hear a "tail" or two about devoted dogs and discover how to identify dog star constellations. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required.
Wednesday, September 7, 4:30–5:30 p.m.
Once upon a time there were three billy goats who wanted to go up to the hillside to graze in the meadow. On the way up was a bridge over a cascading creek they had to cross and under the bridge lived a fearsome troll. Meet in the park center auditorium to find out if the goats got across the bridge and got to eat, or got eaten! Explore how goats are well adapted to climbing steep slopes and hear some baaaaad goat-related jokes. For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration not required.
Saturday, July 2, 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 required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration required.
Saturday, August 6, 8:30–10 a.m.
Summer means hiking in hot weather. With a bit of planning, you can still hike safely. 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 7 and up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration required.
Saturday, September 24, 3–4 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 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.
Friday, July 22, 8–9 p.m.
Learn about the firefly's life cycle 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.
Thursday, August 18, 8–9 p.m.
Many early Native American tribes kept track of time by observing lunar months. They gave the Full Moons "nicknames" to track the seasons. Explore moon lore as it relates to agriculture, the autumnal equinox and the harvest season then head out into the park to gaze at the full "Green Corn" or "Grain" moon (weather dependent). For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.
Friday, September 9, 8–9 p.m.
Join a park naturalist for an evening hike to enjoy the sights and sounds of early 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. For ages 8 & up; fee: $1/person. Proper footwear and registration required.
Paddle the Pond
Saturdays, July 23, August 27 and September 24
First Session: 9–10 a.m.
Second Session: 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 3–4 people (800-pound total weight limit). Registration required. All participants must sign a program waiver.