Hundreds attend Christmas in the Stables

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM — Craig and Jennifer Schwartz and Nile Dielschneider play their instruments and sing during a round of carols at the Christmas in the Stables event at Wolfe Ranch just southeast of Marshalltown. The annual event was held on Saturday.

The annual Wolfe Ranch Christmas in the Stables was held on Saturday, and drew roughly 100 attendees in the first hour.

Beth Andrew, executive director of the Wolfe Ranch, said Christmas in the Stables is the primary fundraiser and is a great way to educate the public about services provided.

“A lot of people say, ‘Oh. I didn’t know you do that,'” she said. “We end up having people who want to come and visit. It’s fun having the community come out and get to learn about what we do and then be able to get involved. We need volunteers all the time. We want people to learn, to come out and ride, which is very therapeutic.”

Equine therapy is a service offered by Wolfe Ranch, along with traditional therapy, telehealth, riding lessons and camps for children. The telehealth, Andrew said, is very helpful as some of the clients live up to two hours away. She said there is a possibility some winter camps will be introduced.

“We want to stay busy and have people come out and visit,” Andrew said.

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM — Matt the Clydesdale looks on as Sidney York speaks to some customers about taking Christmas pictures with him. York called Matt the main draw of the annual Christmas in the Stables event.

While a headcount is not usually done at Christmas in the Stables, Andrew said the event draws roughly 300 attendees.

“It’s always pretty busy the entire four hours,” she said.

Included in the Christmas in the Stables was the primary draw of pictures taken with 15-year-old Matt, a Clydesdale horse. Ranch Manager Sydney York said the opportunity for pictures was a fundraiser. The money raised is used to pay for care for the horses.

“Whether that be feed or maintenance, like vets or farriers – things that keep them nice and healthy, feeling good to be able to participate in our programs,” she said. “Some of them, especially Miss India and Gus, they use a lot of maintenance. They get ridden a whole bunch. All the proceeds go back into the ranch.”

In addition to pictures with Matt, there was a stall decorating contest, drawing for various prizes, vendors selling their wares, a bake sale, cookie decorating, Christmas carols by the fireplace and yard games for kids to play in the indoor arena. Andrew said the drawing for the prizes will occur next week, and winners will be contacted by Wolfe Ranch.

Office Manager Deb Wilson was involved in all of the activities at the event, including bringing in the new cookie decorating.

“I think it’s been great,” she said. “We’ve had a steady flow of people coming. It’s our biggest fundraiser.”

Andrew said they want to branch out and offer differ events to attract people who have never been there. For example, this year they hosted a class for making charcuterie boards and will offer it again. In the summer, Andrew said they would like to bring live music in the barn, and people can come with their lawn chairs.

“We want the public to come out and see everything that we do,” she said. “We’re expanding and doing more and more.”

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM — Santa Claus aka Gary Thompson waves for the camera during Saturday’s Christmas in the Stables at Wolfe Ranch.

In the beginning of June, the Wolfe Ranch opened up Whiskers and Manes Cat Cafe. Andrew said the cat lounge was a dream of hers.

“That is our latest addition,” she said. “All of the cats are adoptable.”

The first adoption from Whiskers and Manes occurred last week, and Andrew said it was super exciting.

An upcoming expansion includes renovating the hallway in the main building. Andrew said the connecting rooms were originally used as resident treatment for boys. The rooms will get different looks, including queen-size beds.

“We’re going to renovate the hallway to make it look not so industrial,” she said. “Three rooms are available for people to rent, like an AirBnB, and if people rent a room and are interested in a cat, they can take the cat with them for a trial run. The cat can hang out with them in their room.”

Altogether, the year has been fabulous for Wolfe Ranch, Andrew said.

“It’s been a year of growth,” she said. “I think the growth in us, as a team, and being able to branch out, I think is really what this year has been about for us – learning and growing. I hope people come out and visit.”


Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.


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