Nov. 27—ORWIGSBURG — Visitors were in a festive mood Saturday as they enjoyed several holiday-themed activities at Explore Schuylkill's event at Pioneer Evergreen Farms.
The event, titled An Explore Schuylkill Holiday, was a celebration of all things Christmas, with the likes of carols, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, s'mores kits and a visit from Santa Claus featured on-site at the expansive Christmas tree farm near Orwigsburg.
After a successful inaugural event last year, Saturday's festival saw an even greater turnout, with hundreds of people strolling through the grounds in search of holiday-themed fun.
"It's just something that we like to do to give back," said Gina Gargano, executive director of Explore Schuylkill. "It's been well-received both times. People are very happy to come here. ... We try to cover a lot of family activities."
There was a vast representation of Schuylkill County-based organizations at the farm.
Given the nature of some of the activities, the sprawling expanse of Pioneer Evergreen Farms served as an ideal venue for the festival.
Visitors lined up for a series of horse-drawn carriage rides from Leiby's Carriage Service LLC, owned and operated by Marisa and Eric "Midge" Marmas, of Tamaqua.
There was also a performance by members of the M&J Brass Choir, followed by Christmas carols from the Schuylkill Choral Society.
When not visiting Santa or spending time on the playground, children took to a pair of 25-year-old donkeys owned by Fred's Farm of Misfits, based in Hegins.
The donkeys, named Dominick and Matilda, are part of a collection of rescued animals under the care of the farm, which also has goats and cows.
Dominick and Matilda proved popular with the children, who petted them and fed them straw.
Kenny Fetterolf, owner of Pioneer Evergreen Farms and its adjoining business, Forget Me Not Florist, was pleased with the Saturday turnout.
"It's a perfect day for outdoor activities and entertainment," he said.
A concession stand near the farm's gift shop served refreshments, including hot chocolate, coffee and cookies.
The farm also served as a Toys for Tots drop-off location, where people could donate new, unwrapped gifts to children in need.
Julian Dreisbach, 9, of Mar Lin, said he had a "pretty good" experience at the Explore Schuylkill Holiday, singling out the carriage rides as his favorite activity.
"(People) should come out to this next year," he said.
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