Come see Santa Claus at Yates Mill, for goodness’ sake!

victorian-santaThat’s right — the jolly old elf himself is making a special visit to our favorite gristmill this holiday season to take pictures with good boys and girls (and their patient parents). Proceeds from the event will benefit Yates Mill Associates’ ongoing efforts to keep Yates Mill operating and open to the public.

Come have your picture made inside Yates Mill with our Victorian-style Santa Claus:

  • Saturday, Dec. 13
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with a lunch hour for the elves starting at noon)

Photographs will be taken by the team at Photo Miracles. You’ll be able to select and order your pictures almost immediately at the park center.

How does it work?

  • Drop by the park center at any time between 10 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 13 to sign up with YMA volunteers and purchase your ticket. No appointment is necessary.
  • For $15, you’ll receive one ticket for a family group to pose in the mill with Santa Claus. Cash, check AND CHARGE CARDS will be accepted.
  • Walk down to the mill, where another volunteer will greet you at the door. When it’s your turn, you’ll step inside to meet Santa and take several poses.
  • Next, play “reindeer games” in the mill yard, take a walk in the park or enjoy free refreshments while your photos are uploaded.
  • Then return to the park center to view your images. You may order as many prints as you like. The $15 ticket you purchased will be credited to your entire order.

Photo prices (one each except where noted):

  • 4×6 for $15
  • 5×7 for $15
  • 4 wallets for $15
  • 8×10 for $22
  • 20×30 for $65

Join us at historic Yates Mill to celebrate the season with Santa Claus!


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Farewells and welcomes at Yates Mill park

From the staff of Historic Yates Mill County Park

Change is in the air, from a seasonal perspective but also for the park’s staffing structure. Recently we saw a large turnover of both full-time and part-time staff. After a time of transition, the park is now fully re-staffed and we hope  it will stay that way for a long while.

Marc MahanIn September, we said goodbye to four colleagues who left for new job opportunities: Rosemary O’Day Lee, our full-time park technician for group programming; part-time visitor services staff Lynn Canada and Sean Croom; and part-time maintenance staffer Sandra Calhoun. Our summer parks and recreation intern Robert Monk also left at about the same time to head back to college. We certainly miss them at the park and appreciate all that they did for our county parks and the people who visit them. Here’s hoping they visit our county parks often!

We filled Rosemary’s position in October. A part-time park staffer, Marc Mahan, has taken on the challenge of group program coordination and assumed the full-time park technician position. Marc (pictured right) majored in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at N.C. State University with a concentration in natural resource management and environmental education. Marc first came to Historic Yates Mill County Park as a visitor and program participant, then as a volunteer, next as an intern and finally as part-time staff. We’re glad to have him as part of our full-time team.

Three new part-time staff members have also been hired: Jameson Merrell, Amy Odom and Hannah Lee. Between them, they cover duties at the front desk of the park visitor center for most of each week and assist with many other operational and program-related responsibilities. Most likely they will be the first people to greet you when you head inside the visitor center, so be sure to say hello and welcome them on board.

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Join us for holiday fun at Yates Mill

YMA Holiday Sale 2014 draft_Page_1We’ve got a busy and fun fall in store for friends of Yates Mill and supporters of Yates Mill Associates. YMA’s annual holiday sale has been moved up to November to help you get a jump on gift-giving and holiday baking. We’ve also made arrangements with a certain jolly old elf to visit the mill and pose for pictures with our young friends.

Nov. 15: Let Yates Mill help you with holiday baking and gifts!

It’ll soon be time to load up on stone-ground cornmeal, cookbooks, crafts and souvenirs from historic Yates Mill. Our annual holiday sale will take place Saturday, Nov. 15 – which is also our last corn-grinding weekend of the 2014 season.

The sale has traditionally been in December but we’ve moved it up so you can use our delicious cornmeal in your Thanksgiving baking. We’ll also have an array of Yates Mill cups, caps, T-shirts, ornaments and other souvenirs, plus crafts hand-made by YMA volunteers. Download a sale flyer here to pin on your refrigerator and share with friends.

Come down to the mill yard on Nov. 15 to take a tour and get a jump on your holiday shopping!

Dec. 13: Santa’s making a stop this holiday season at Yates Mill – don’t miss his visit!

In the historic spirit of Yates Mill, Santa will dress in his Victorian-era robes and be available all day Saturday, Dec. 13, to have pictures made with boys and girls (and willing parents) inside our festively decorated mill.

Your $15 ticket will purchase either a 5×7 or a 4×6 print, or four wallet-sized photos taken by the pros from Photo Miracles. You can pick your photos on-site and order additional prints if you like what you see.

Profits from the photos will be shared with Yates Mill Associates to help fund our ongoing work to keep Yates Mill’s historic machinery running. We’ll post more details on this event as it gets closer.


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Back at the daily (or monthly) grind

We’re so happy that Yates Mill is back in action! Enjoy this peek at our first corn-grinding of the 2014 tour season!


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Remembering our dear friends, Dick Thompson and Mary Lea Simpkins

Mary Lea Simpkins cuts the ribbon to open the A.E. Finley Center for visitors at Historic Yates Mill County Park in 2006.

Mary Lea Simpkins cuts the ribbon to open the A.E. Finley Center for visitors at Historic Yates Mill County Park in 2006.

Yates Mill Associates is mourning the loss of two dear friends whose energy, enthusiasm and support were essential in making historic Yates Mill the community centerpiece we know today: longtime board member and mill “ambassador” J.D. “Dick” Thompson, and Mary Lea Simpkins, the daughter of Yates Mill’s last commercial miller.

Mary, who passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 95, lived in the Swift Creek community all her life. She spent childhood years in the shadow of Yates Mill, where her father — like his father before him — spent more than 50 years grinding grain into meal. She was an invaluable source of information as Yates Mill Associates and Wake County prepared the mill, park and visitors’ center to be opened to the public in 2006, and her voice can still be heard in recordings on display at the A.E. Finley Center.

Dick’s association with Yates Mill dates back almost as far, to his days as an N.C. State University student in the 1930s, as you can read in this profile from Perspectives, the magazine of N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Dick Thompson

Dick Thompson on the park visitors’ center porch named on his honor, with a scenic view of Yates Mill. Photo by Marc Hall, N.C. State University

Dick, who passed on June 5 at the age of 97, remained in touch with the mill through a long and successful business career highlighted by his association with the N.C. Equipment Company, owned by A.E. Finley, in whose honor the park visitors’ center is named. The observation porch on the back of the center, with its picturesque view of the old mill, was dedicated in Dick’s name to honor his passion for and support of Yates Mill’s restoration and continued operation.

Dick was one of the most enthusiastic voices on behalf of Yates Mill Associates. He served as a board member, enlisted his friends as supporters, made fundraising appeals in person and by letter, showed off the mill to new and old visitors, and inspired all of us with his passion for preserving Yates Mill as a treasure from and window to our shared history.

We thank Dick and Mary for their many years of friendship and community spirit. We will miss them both, and pledge to continue our work in their memory.

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