By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Animal Farm had only been open for about 30 minutes on Monday when 100 people had already walked through the gates.
Kids came running to see the rabbits, horses and goats at the farm in Forest Park, at 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd.
Jenny Johnson of Bothell brings her kids every year. She started when her oldest was 2. Now, her daughter is 13 and Johnson has continued the tradition for her younger kids, ages 11, 7 and 3.
“They like everything that they can get close to and pet,” Johnson said. “This is a great place.”
Her 11-year-old daughter. Emma, likes the bunnies the most.
“They’re just so cute and fun to watch,” Emma said.
The summer mainstay at Forest Park has been open for 42 years, and it’s never been more popular. Just this past sunny weekend, 3,300 visitors walked through the gates, said city of Everett recreation supervisor Karen Emory. That’s the most for any weekend ever, she said.
And it was about 10 percent of the total number of visitors from last year.
The Animal Farm opened for the season June 30 and it will continue every day until Aug. 26.
Forest Park used to have a zoo, but it was closed because it was too costly to operate. In 1970, the farm opened because the community missed having animals at the park, said Lori Cummings, assistant director for recreation and golf services for the city of Everett.
The farm has about 50 animals that include goats, alpacas, pigs and ducks. Children can pet the bunnies and the goats. They can also ride the horses.
The cost is free but the farm accepts donations. It costs $80,000 to run per year and depends on donations and city funds, Cummings said. She hopes the farm can get $6,500 in donations this year.
Most of the animals are loaned by local farmers. The animals arrived weeks before the start of the season so they can be put in quarantine and checked for disease, Emory said. They are returned when the farm closes. Every year, the farm gets new animals.
“It’s rare to have animals returning,” Emory said.
Goats are left to roam free because their temperament allows small children to get close to them, recreational coordinator Barry Martin said.
While the farm opens at 10 in the morning, the seasonal staff and volunteers arrive early to clean the stalls, fences and barns. They also feed the animals and let them out.
Farm manager Sherry Russell arrives about 6:30 a.m. to make sure staff members have schedules and lists of chores for the day. Her goal is for staff and visitors to have a good experience visiting the farm.
“Some of these kids have not touched these animals before,” Russell said.
Amy Jones of Lake Stevens brought her four children to pet the goats. There are not that many petting farms anymore, so the Animal Farm provides an opportunity to see these animals, she said.
That’s what her oldest daughter, Tessa, 7, likes about the farm.
“I like to see different kinds of animals you don’t usually see,” Tessa said. “It’s cool to pet the goats.”
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the animals
The Animal Farm has opened for the summer at Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd., Everett. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. It is scheduled to close for the summer Aug. 26. Admission is free.