You have either seen them or you have one: a shirt that says, "It's a Hallmark Christmas movie and hot chocolate kind of day!" or something to that effect. Hallmark Christmas movies seem to be the dream setting for the perfect small-town Christmas, but they might seem to good to be true. Places that radiate the Christmas spirit with activities and more can be hard to find.
Well look no further.
The Cider Barn Tree Farm south of Fairfield off Highway 45 will soon be your new favorite Christmas tradition. A dream of owner Mindy Brokaw's for a few years now, Cider Barn will have something for the whole family, no matter your age. Christmas trees? √ Ice Skating? √ Hot Chocolate? √ Christmas Shopping? √ Animal Stable? √ Beautiful, quiet, country setting? √ √ √
Growing up south of Fairfield, Mindy fondly remembers winters where their pond would freeze, and the family would go ice skating together. Her mom would go to town to buy every size of ice skates from Book Daddy that she could find. Living at the same location now with her own family, winters had not been cold enough to create their own personal skating rink for many years as her children grew up. Finally, a few years ago, their pond froze over, so she was able to introduce her kids Wren and Crew, as well as husband Dustin, to skating in their own back yard. She was transported back to her childhood and dearly wished she could share that experience with others. Hence the beginning of Cider Barn.
As you pull in the long drive to the barn, you will notice the sprouts of several different kinds of Christmas trees beginning to grow. Although they will not be ready for around 7 years to cut your own, there are some that only have 4 years left to maturity. There are a variety of trees planted, such as Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, Colorado Blue Spruce, White Spruce, White Pine, and Scotch Pine. Until then, Mindy will have fresh cut Christmas trees
still available to purchase. Love the look of flocked trees? She can do that too!
Once you pass the pond (the original ice-skating rink), the big, beautiful barn is the center point of it all. With rocking chairs and a fireplace on the wrap-around front porch, you could easily sit outside with your hot chocolate as you watch the skaters and enjoy the fire.
Make sure you go in the barn though, because you will enter a winter wonderland of snowflakes, Christmas decor, ice skates, kids crafts, and so much more. Rent your ice skates (or bring your own!) and head outside to the 30' by 50' skating rink! The Christmas Shop inside the barn is planned to have items such as stocking stuffers, music boxes, woodworking, Christmas decor, homemade ornaments, whole tree baskets (all your Christmas tree decorations in one box!), fresh centerpieces, grave blankets and more.
Santa plans to visit the barn when his schedule allows, while some of his "reindeer" helpers, Nobel and Noel, will be on site for you to visit with as well! Also, Mindy has some little lambs, go see them before they grow! If you plan to ice skate, you can bring your own skates or rent skates inside the barn. In case you get to the rink and your skates do not fit right, there will be a walk-up window where you can exchange your skates for a different size and order a hot chocolate while you wait! For those that may need some help skating, there are Dasher the Dolphin ice skating assistants you can rent for children and adults. Wondering how you can ice skate when it is not below freezing outside? If it is 50° or below outside, the chiller that goes with the skating rink will keep the REAL ice cold enough to skate.
Interested in renting the Cider Barn for parties, gatherings, or class trips? You can do that too! Just contact Mindy for availability and pricing. She plans to have a tent by the ice rink to get out of inclement weather, as well as an area for campfires to keep warm.
So what about after Christmas? Mindy has plans for the remainder of the year, starting with barn dances, family picnics, and filling the gift shop with Easter baskets and fillers. For the summer season, there will be plant and flower sales, pick your own blackberries and raspberries, and canning and preserving classes through the local Illinois Extension Office.
"I hope people know you can come even if you do not skate!" Mindy expressed. The sign may say Cider Barn Tree Farm: Skating & Gifts, but there is so much more to see and do for the Christmas lover. Put it in your GPS and make plans to visit them this Christmas season.
Cider Barn Tree Farm is proudly powered by Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative.