DAILY RECORD – SAMIRA GEORGE – Hundreds of children and families piled into the Old Mill Country Store parking lot to partake in horse-drawn carriage rides, face painting, animal zoos and live music during the annual animal carnival Sunday.
Children excitedly rushed to a variety of animal stations where they had the opportunity to pet and interact with farm animals. Baby chickens, rabbits, sheep, puppies and more were out on display as hundreds of tiny hands eagerly pet fury bodies.
At one station, parents smiled as their small children gingerly cupped animals like baby chicks in their hands, for some the first time ever.
A box full of cowboy hats and boots were also available for children to play dress up while waiting to ride the ponies.
Katie Quicksall, store manager, said the store parking lot had been full of people and animals since 10 a.m. Sunday. Quicksall said she has been coming to Old Mill since she was 16 and likes how the animal carnival is another avenue the ranching lifestyle can be extended to the public.
“We see a lot of people today that we don’t see traditionally,” Quicksall said. “We have our community members that are in here once a week that are buying feed or supplies for their animals and they come of course, but we also have community members who maybe aren’t familiar with the ranching or farming background.”
According to Quicksall, it can sometimes be a scramble to acquire animals for the event. Quicksall said in the coming weeks before the big day the store keeps track of what feed people are buying and reach out to them in the hopes they might want to volunteer their animal.
“We get a lot of involvement from the community, which is neat because all of these animals are our customers,” Quicksall said.
One aspect Quicksall likes about the day is people get to see some animals they might not ordinarily get to interact with such as donkeys or baby calves.
“For me, this is the norm,” Quicksall said. “I’m used to all the animals and used to everything. So I don’t get too excited about seeing the puppy, but to see the children’s faces and other people so excited is really cool.”
Once the crowds have trickled down and families are back home, Quicksall said her biggest takeaway from the day is the satisfaction of able to share her passion and excitement for agriculture and farm life with familiar and new faces.