Lutz Children's Museum celebrates the end of summer with Farm Day

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester, Bolton - posted Fri., Aug. 26, 2011
Guests enjoy the hayride at the 2010 Farm Day. Photo courtesy of Lutz Children's Museum. - Contributed Photo

Lutz Children's Museum's annual end-of-summer tradition, Farm Day, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 3, during Labor Day weekend.

“This is a particularly nice event,” said Bob Eckert, executive director of the museum. “It's family-friendly with an educational component,” he added, referring to the Fish Family dairy farm operation.

Eckert restarted the annual tradition in 2001, when he became executive director; he remembers Farm Day from the 1970s and ’80s, when he volunteered at the museum.

More than 200 volunteers and dozens of community sponsors make Farm Day possible. “There's no way our staff of 20 [including part-time and full-time employees] can pull off an event for nearly 4,000 people,” noted Eckert. The large number of volunteers is needed to keep everything safe and organized, “and to be sure we don't run out of hot fudge,” he added. The Bolton Volunteer Fire Department will be on-hand, and the Windsor Police Explorers will help with parking.

Farm Day is the largest of the museum's fundraiser. According to Eckert, funds raised at events overall represent 20 percent of the museum’s operating budget. “It says something about the community, the number of organizations that came out to support us,” said Eckert about this year's expanded event sponsorships. The support from the sponsoring organizations helps defray the cost of Farm Day, so that more funds can be used for educational programs.

“You can definitely spend the entire day with your family,” said Eckert. “It's just a little bit bigger and better each year.” For example, this year will feature four bluegrass bands, an expanded farmers’ market and more arts and crafts vendors, as well as hayrides and other activities for the whole family. In addition to the ice cream, there will also be food for purchase. Kids can also play a variety of games for a small ticket fee, and kids of all ages can tie-die t-shirts. The Lutz staff will all be wearing their own tie-die t-shirts on Farm Day.

Held at the Fish Family Farm in Bolton, Farm Day provides an opportunity for families to learn about dairy operations. According to Eckert, the farm owner, Don Fish, has always loved farming and enjoys opening the farm to the community. In addition to tours of the dairy, visitors can meet the cows, watch the milk processing operation and learn how butter and ice cream are made. Fish also donates all the ice cream for Farm Day.

Right after Farm Day, the museum will undergo phase I of its planned construction. Although the building footprint will not be expanded, interior renovations will result in more available exhibit space. The interior “classroom” wall will be removed, creating an open area rather than the existing two rooms.

“The improvements on this building are signs that the museum is expanding and growing,” said Eckert. The renovations are expected to be complete by Oct. 28, when the Lutz will host its annual Goods and Services Auction. “That should be the grand reopening,” said Eckert.

For the months of September and October, Lutz animals and staff, and all Lutz activities will be relocated at the Oak Grove Nature Center, at 269 Oak Grove Street. “We are not closed,” stressed Eckert, “we're just moving.” Beginning Sept. 4, Oak Grove will host open activities hours Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. From 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday through Friday and from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, there will be guided nature walks. For the month of September, the nature walk will be offered again starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, and in October, it will be offered from 4 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Several of the class offerings in September and October were selected because of the change in location. For example, children ages 5 through 10 can have “Fun with Fungus,” be creative with “Autumn Leaves,” or learn about “Fire Safety” with a trip to Fire Station 4, which is located adjacent to the Oak Grove Nature Center. The various week-long classes begin Sept. 11 and end Oct. 22. Registration is first-come, first-served, and there is a 25 percent discount for online registrations.

Farm Day is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3. Tickets for Farm Day can be purchased in advance online or on the day of the event at the entrance. The cost is $5 for Lutz Children's Museum members and $6 for non-members. Included in the entrance price is all-you-can-eat ice cream, made right on the Fish Family Farm, plus a host of free activities throughout the day. The rain date is one week later, on Saturday, Sept. 10.

For complete details about Farm Day and the museum’s temporary relocation to the Oak Grove Nature Center, visit the website at or call the museum at 860 643-0949.

Fish Family Farm is located at 20 Dimick Road in Bolton. The self-serve farm store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, selling pasteurized, bottled milk, heavy cream, cottage cheese, butter and ice cream, made fresh from Jersey cows born right on the property, as well as eggs. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the farm during store hours. To arrange a large-group tour, call 860-646-9745. For more information, visit the website

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