Flat Rock – September is National Literacy Month, thus Connemara, the Carl Sandburg home in Flat Rock, is kicking off” this national celebration of reading through its Read to a Goat program. Throughout September, the park will have a red wagon full of Sandburg’s books at the barn area. Visitors of all ages are invited to come to the park, pick out a book, and read to a goat.
“Carl Sandburg was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. We want this park to be your ‘goat-to place’ for discovering his books,” said Superintendent Polly Angelakis. “Visitors can also bring a favorite book from home. Whether you read to our goats or choose to participate at home and read to a family pet instead, post a selfie online with the hashtag #ReadToAGoat.”
During March and September only, readers who come to the Park and read to a Sandburg goat receive a special bookmark that is good for a small discount on books sold in the park store. To see the goats (and staff) officially launch September’s Read to a Goat program, visit https://fb.watch/mL7dH6Pcvv/.
A free park shuttle runs from the main parking lot on Little River Road to the farm area, Sandburg Home, and grounds. The shuttle operates on the days and times the Park Store /Visitor Center and Sandburg Home are open: 10am to 4pm on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Access to the goat farm is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Changes at the Park Grounds, Trails and Parking Lots
Perhaps if you haven’t been to Sandburg’s home in some time, you may not realize that a pipe broke and drained the lake below the house. Most visitors approach the house from that parking lot. On August 9, 2022, the park closed Front Lake bridge due to severe bank erosion in the historic dam. Front Lake bridge was built on the spillway portion of this dam.The dam, bridge, and spillway were inspected in September. The earthen dam on the left side of the bridge was found to be eroding and unstable. That is why the bridge was closed and blocked off. One cannot go into these closed areas. The park shuttles visitors from Front Lake parking lot into the park itself on days the Sandburg Home is open. Please call 828-707-8125 for assistance on the day of your visit. Obviously this makes life more complicated for those visiting, and they should wear more comfortable shoes and attire.
Carl Sandburg – “Indubitably an American”
Sandburg, a Midwesterner most of his life, moved to North Carolina in 1945 with his family until he died there July 22, 1967. This farm offered the peace and solitude required for his writing and allowed his wife to have over 30 acres of pasture-land to raise her champion dairy goats. Sandburg, having already achieved literary fame before relocating to North Carolina, continued to write and lecture and published more than one-third of his works during his 22 years at Connemara. The 270 acre farm is now a National Historic Site with many year round activities.
Last year the site celebrated the 100th anniversary of Carl Sandburg’s “Rootabaga Stories.” Multiple copies of these stories are available, and if you haven’t read them yet, Carl Sandburg promoted them as appropriate “for people from 5 to 105!” They are sure to make you chuckle and smile. Selections from “Rootabaga Stories”can be read online found on the Sandburg website.
The Flat Rock Playhouse actors performed the Rootabaga Express! with 30 minute plays in their amphitheater this summer from June 15-August 5. Carl Sandburg created his own version of American fairy tales when he published Rootabaga Stories (1922) and Rootabaga Pigeons (1923). Sandburg replaced the European fairy tale cast of princes, princesses, castles and kingdoms with icons American children would recognize — taxi-drivers, movie actors, skyscrapers, prairies and automobiles.
House Tours Resume Beginning October 5
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site will resume fees for house tours beginning October 5, 2023. House tour fees fund interpretive and preservation efforts in the house, including house tours, free school programs, exhibits and curatorial support for the 38,000 museum objects on display in the house.
The house tour ticket fee will be $10, adults; and $6 for adults 62 and older, including all interagency pass holders. Advance online ticket reservations are available via Recreation.gov. Online reservations are strongly recommended, because day-of-visit, last minute tickets are rarely available.
Tours are available on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (four days per week) at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. The number of daily tour offerings will increase as budget and staffing allow.
Christmas at Connemara
Saturdays, December 2, 9, and 16th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be a wonderful time to celebrate Christmas at Connemara with demonstrations and craft making. The free holiday activities and craft-making are supported by the non-profit Park Store managed by America’s National Parks. Demonstrations and craft making will be offered in the garage adjacent to the Sandburg Home. Activities are free and visitors can come anytime during the event time to participate.
The Sandburg Home will be decorated in the simple style of the Sandburgs with poinsettias and a traditionally decorated Christmas tree throughout December until January 6th, 2024. The Christmas season was a time when the family was home, and Carl Sandburg took a break from traveling. They gathered in the living room to listen to music, sing songs, and read stories. There will be many activities at Connemara to enjoy over the holidays.