By Kaila Cove
The Olde Fashioned Christmas, which is held at Pioneer Park, is an event that includes live performances, holiday cookies and refreshments, horse-drawn sleigh rides, games, arts and crafts, baking, and a visit from Santa to kick-start the holiday season for Whatcom County.
This event is held by the Ferndale Heritage Society and attracts visitors from all over.
“Pioneer Park is the world’s largest collection of cedar log-slab cabins,” Linda Harkleroad said, who is coordinator of the Olde Fashioned Christmas at Pioneer Park. These log cabins started arriving in the 70s and contain historic artifacts.
Harkleroad said Pioneer Park was created in 1901. Back then, it was known as a picnic for settlers to gather.
She said that Ferndale owns the park and the log cabins, the Old Settlers own the artifacts, and the Ferndale Heritage society takes care of the park.
One of the parks newest additions is new Americans with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalks.
Dusty Sager, who has been attending the Olde Fashioned Christmas since the 90s says he, “can’t wait to go this year with the new pavement walkway.”
Pioneer Park holds public tours and runs the education program, in the spring, and the Olde Fashioned Christmas, in the fall.
Linda Harkleroad and Dusty Sager at the Olde Fashioned Christmas Festival
Harkleroad said that the Olde Fashioned Christmas is “an annual event. We always do it the first weekend in December. We try to keep it very non-commercial.” Everything is included in the $4 ticket at the door.
During this event, each historic cabin has a theme. “This year’s theme is our ‘favorite collections,’” Harkleroad said.
An example of “favorite collections” are angels, miniature Santas, and toy trains. Each cabin has a separate activity.
Tom Brand, a member of the Ferndale Heritage Society says, “It is nice to have that educational aspect for the younger kids and the reminiscent part for the older folks.”
Last year the park celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Olde Fashioned Christmas, and this year will be the events 26th year.
“It’s the main Christmas event for the community,” Harkleroad said. She says the main goal of this event is to get the holiday season started in a calming manner.
Harkleroad says the Ferndale Christmas tree lighting starts the event.
People come from all over to attend the Olde Fashioned Christmas. The Foresters Association has “pre-ordered 75 tickets already for their group to come in on Saturday,” Harkleroad said.
Brand says, “We get people from Seattle, Everett, Canada that have been here before, and they come back because they say it’s so spectacular. We bring people to town and Whatcom County.”
Harkleroad said that the mayor of Ferndale, Jon Mutchler, is expected to make an appearance and play the piano. At the same time, Ferndale Heritage Society said they hope that this event doesn’t become so large that the Olde Fashioned Christmas loses its intimacy.
The admission price to attend the Olde Fashioned Christmas is $4 for adults and $3 for children. “The cheapest entertainment you’ll ever have,” Harkleroad said.
She says this is an event worth people’s money because it is possible to spend the whole afternoon here.
Brand says, “It’s an easy two-hour amount of time to go through here. You can get as much out of it as you want.” People who attend this event have the option to walk through 12 decorated cabins that each have a holiday activity.
“It’s an outing for four bucks — coming down here and going though these cabins getting some hot coffee or cocoa to drink and cookies while going on a horse drawn ride and enjoying the entertainment,” she said.
Harkleroad said that this year was the last year that the Olde Fashioned Christmas will be able to provide tickets at such a low price.
Harkleroad believes that this event is “as close as you’re going to get” to an old fashioned Christmas. “It is definitely authentic. There is nothing phony about it,” she said.
Harkleroads says, “For those interested in history, this is a gold mine.” Also if you enjoy Christmas lights, Harkleroad said that the park provides a beautiful visual display when the lights brighten up the park at night.
“It’s a treasure to have something like this all in one place,” Brand says.
Harkleroad says she appreciates the heartfelt spirit, the cabins, and the lights.
She also enjoys “the glee in some of these little kids — some of them concentrate so hard on writing that letter to Santa, and they are so cute.”
Brand says his favorite part of this event is seeing the joy of kids and learning about the artifacts. “I just think it’s neat to give back to the community and to keep a focus for people to have in this troubled time,” he said. Both volunteers feel this event is a great way to indulge in the atmosphere holiday spirit.
Harkleroad says live performances from local performers happen throughout the weekend and Rainbow Ranch brings their horses for horse-drawn carriage rides at no extra cost. Refreshments and cookies will be provided at no charge and old-fashioned games will be available. Crafts will be provided in every cabin and Santa Claus will be there to visit. Cookie baking and applesauce will be at the Jenny House and the Shields.
Harkleroad said some people have attended this event since they were children, and now they bring their own children along as a family tradition.
Sager says, “It’s a family tradition to see the park decorated for Christmas.” Sager says he brings his children to visit Santa and enjoys the tastiest applesauce.
“I think it brings the best of our small town together for a few nights,” Sager says. He says some of their favorite parts about the event is singing Christmas songs and going on horse-drawn carriage rides.
Harkleroad says that the “real Santa” visits the Olde Fashioned Christmas at Pioneer Park. “We have the real Santa, just saying,” Harkleroad said. It has also been noted that Santa writes back every single person that writes a letter to him at the Olde Fashioned Christmas.