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Christmas at Salomon Farm, Saturday.

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
With a little help from his grandfather Steve Heckman, 23-month-old Kaiden Chadwell gets a close look at the horses Saturday during Christmas on the Farm at Salomon Farm Park.

Christmas on the Farm celebrates holiday traditions

Left, Father Christmas, clad in his traditional red hooded robe, welcomes visitors at the door of the Heritage Barn.
Visitors check out vendors’ wares and antique farm equipment in the general store, set up inside the Heritage Barn for Christmas on the Farm.

Inside the rustic, old barn at Salomon Farm, Father Christmas waited patiently as 3-year-old Jaxon took a detour to accompany musicians Rachael Ford and Margie Wermer.

The two played “Away in a Manger” on mountain dulcimers. Jaxon took over percussion with a pair of toy maracas.

“He plays music at day care – they have a little drum set he that he loves to play,” said his mother, Liz Nickel. She stood off to the side, letting him finish his performance.

“We’re having a blast. It’s a great way to get out of the stores.”

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department and a small army of community volunteers hosted the fifth annual Christmas on the Farm on Saturday at Salomon Farm Park. Renee Sinacola, the parks department’s outdoor recreation coordinator, said the event offers a retreat from the often-hectic holiday shopping centers.

The free celebration encouraged patrons to give donations to help support the event and similar programs in the future.

“Salomon (Farm) is different than anything else in Fort Wayne,” Sinacola said. “Being able to offer these programs like farming, knitting, crocheting, gardening – it’s something different that’s not being done anywhere else.”

The event featured horse-drawn wagon rides by the DeKalb County’s Horsemen Association and a living Nativity scene with sheep. Children got to meet Father Christmas, clad in his traditional red hooded robe – a slightly different sight for children who are used to a plump Santa in a suit and cap.

“We wanted to have a traditional Christmas, something that wasn’t so commercial,” Sinacola said.

Besides live music and entertainment for children, the event also featured a general store in the farm’s Heritage Barn, giving local vendors and customers an opportunity to interact while holiday shopping. Vendor Mardell Rhodes of Churubusco said this was her first time selling her handmade rugs, potholders and noodles.

She jokingly added that this could be “possibly the last time” as she fended off the chill in the barn.

“This is something you can use, rather just some knickknacks to give somebody,” she said, referring to her handmade goods.

Sinacola said it’s important to give local vendors an opportunity to sell their wares, and she often includes them with most of the farm’s events.

“It gives back to the community,” she said. “You actually know where your food is grown and how it was made. Or if it’s a knit or something like that, you actually get the story behind how it was made or where the yarn comes from.”

Mel Waggoner said the event has become a family tradition as her two grandsons, Winston, 6, and Shawn, 3, have grown to enjoy watching the horses clomp on the gravel road that circles the barns.

She said the farm is a respite that brings a little more meaning to the season.

“It’s a nice atmosphere, and I feel safe with the boys here,” Waggoner said. “I want them to learn about the animals, Jesus and just the fact that there isn’t just the city – there’s another place that’s quieter and less stressful without all the hustle and bustle.”