A Grass Menagerie

Pony rides and a petting zoo keep Farm City Day a top attraction

Dr. Beverly Hargus with friend Remy.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Hendersonville’s Farm City Day at Jackson Park is a wholesome, traditional family adventure. Dads typically check out the farm equipment, especially the antiques that still work. Moms are often drawn to the square dancing and craft vendors. But without fail, the kids head straight to the “Barnyard Bandits,” a petting zoo co-organized by local 4-H clubs and Dr. Beverly Hargus, owner of Animals R Us Veterinary Clinic in Flat Rock.

Why do you think the Barnyard Bandits/petting zoo is the biggest attraction at Hendersonville’s Farm City Day?

Beverly Hargus: Everyone loves animals … kids and parents [both].  We offer a variety of animals that most people would otherwise not come in contact with without this opportunity.

Waiting for that closeup at Farm City Day.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

So it’s mostly larger animals?

The Barnyard Bandits is one of many 4-H groups offered through Henderson County’s NC Cooperative Extension and North Carolina State University. We are the only group concentrating solely on livestock. Most of our kids will be exhibiting their animals at local and state-level fairs.

Are there several pens, or just one big open barnyard?

Most animals are in separate pens because they are like people — they do not always play well with others. We really want a petting zoo instead of a WWF event. Those horses are awfully temperamental and judgy!

A calf enjoys her bottle.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

I see you’ll also have cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and llamas. Are llamas used as farm animals in Henderson County?

We try to have the traditional farm animals and a few surprises. The llama is an up-and-coming farm animal.  There are several farms in Henderson County with them. Some people are using them as livestock guardians and others use their fleece. Due to recent travel restrictions and behavioral issues, the camel will be unable to attend.

How can kids interact with the animals?

The children can pet, feed, milk, and ride different animals. Petting is free. Feeding is around $1 and riding around $5. The funds help support our club.

Barnyard Bandits, a local 4-H club, sponsor the livestock at Farm City Day.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

What’s the most popular animal and why?

The pony rides draw the most attention because all kids want to ride one. Some people — kids and adults — come to Farm City Day every year just to ride a horse. There are very few places that offer pony rides nowadays.

When you observe children getting to know these animals, how does it make you feel?

Most kids do not live on farms and have no access to the animals we provide. They know about dogs and cats but nothing about farm animals. It’s nice to be able to see a child milk a cow and realize where the milk they drink comes from. We offer one of the only agricultural experiences for kids in Henderson County. It’s important to keep agriculture in our county, and our kids are the future, so by working with them, we keep ag alive.

Farm City Day happens Saturday, Oct. 2, in Jackson Park, Hendersonville, with rural displays, dancing and clogging, craft exhibitors, old-fashioned games including an egg toss and sack race, live music, food, a petting zoo, and more. 10am-4pm. Free admission. For more information, call 828-697-4891.

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