Families explore the grounds at Shepard Farm. Photo by Nerissa Solovitz
Family Fun ‘Halloween Extravaganza’ at Shepard Farm

Dodge Nature Center hosted a family-friendly Halloween Extravaganza at Shepard Farm on Oct. 29, with more than 1,300 people were in attendance. Children were delighted with hayrides, games including apple slingshot, putt-putt, face painting, refreshments from the Lions Club, live music from Kairos Alive!, trick-or-treating through the woods, and other activities.

According to Brenda Teats, Director of Development for Dodge Nature Center, “Dodge has hosted a Halloween celebration at its original location in West St. Paul for more than 20 years. Because of the pandemic, we did not host in 2020 or 2021, so we’re excited to be back with this fun, family celebration.”

This year’s Halloween Extravaganza is the first time they’ve hosted the event in Cottage Grove at Shepard Farm.

“We opened the trails to the public in April of 2022 and thought Halloween would be a great time to introduce more families to this beautiful location, so we brought the event to Cottage Grove,“ said Teats.

There were about 70 volunteers, including board members and staff, involved in this event, which has been in the planning process for more than six months with Event Coordinator Julie Allen.

Teats said, she got a lot of help with setup the week before the event from Dodge staff and volunteers from Marathon in St. Paul Park. Sponsors for the event included North Point Development (candy sponsor) and Cub Foods of Cottage Grove (pumpkin sponsor).

The Halloween Extravaganza in past years has focused more on having scary content. When deciding to host the event in Cottage Grove, it was reimagined as a more family-friendly event.

Teats explained, “We wanted to introduce ourselves to the community in a way that added to options for families, rather than compete with awesome programs already in the area.”

Other events are likely to be hosted at Shepard Farm in the future, but none have been determined as of yet.

As a reminder, Teats added, “Our trails are open yearround to walk from sunrise to sunset at no cost. Fall is a great time to get out for a walk on the trail through 100+ year-old trees.”

Information on their locations and tips to enjoy their trails can be found at www. dodgenaturecenter.org/visit.

Kids playing in the hay at the Halloween Extravaganza at Shepard Farm. Photo by Nerissa Solovitz

November 2, 2022