TERRYVILLE - If they didnâ€™t already feel the Christmas spirit, visitors to Wood Acres Farm were swept away by it over the weekend.
Between sausage and pancake feasts along with horse-drawn sleigh rides over snow-coated trails, families were greeted by Santa Claus himself both Saturday and Sunday mornings. About 600 people took part in the farmâ€™s annual Breakfast with Santa.
â€śThis is such an amazing place any season,â€ť pointed out Plainville resident Arlene Kudla, joined by her husband, Scott, and their grandsons Lincoln, 2, and Logan, 5.
â€śIt gives you a real good Christmas feeling,â€ť Scott added.
Owners Ken and Joyce Wood were in the thick of it all. She cooked up breakfasts with a team in the kitchen and he made sure the sleigh rides went off without a hitch.
â€śWeâ€™re even busier than yesterday,â€ť Ken said Sunday morning, leaving the banquet hall to check on horses Duke and Merc, about to lead another group of people around the farmâ€™s 25 acres.
The family began stirring up excitement for their holiday weekend early in the fall at Bristolâ€™s Mum Parade. Thatâ€™s when Santa made his first appearance of the year, on Wood Acresâ€™ float.
â€śIâ€™ve been in the Mum Parade for 44 years now,â€ť Wood said. â€śEverybody goes wild when they see Santa Claus coming down the road.â€ť
Mr. and Mrs. Claus made a half-a-dozen grand entrances over the weekend during six meal seatings.
â€śWe love to see the childrenâ€™s faces light up when Santa comes in the room,â€ť coordinator Alyssa Thibodeau said.
She and volunteer Anna Slevinsky greeted families at the door, also collecting donations for the Plymouth Food Pantry.
For many visitors, it was their first time at Wood Acres.
â€śA lot of people live in this town and didnâ€™t even know this place existed,â€ť Thibodeau said. â€śItâ€™s a whole other world out here. A little gem.â€ť
Katie Gualducci and her 19-month-old son Dex were two of the first to meet Santa Sunday.
â€śItâ€™s adorable here,â€ť Gualducci said.
Families warmed up around a fire pit in between sleigh rides, piloted by volunteer husband and wife team Patrick and Jordan Howell.
â€śWe are longtime family friends,â€ť Patrick said.
â€śWe like seeing everyone,â€ť his wife added. â€śItâ€™s fun.â€ť
The farm hosts sleigh rides throughout the winter, as long as thereâ€™s snow on the ground but not in the sky. Its largest venture, however, is the wedding business.
â€śWe did over 90 weddings this year,â€ť Wood explained.
There are 14 horse-drawn vehicles on the property, along with seven draft horses and one donkey.
â€śAs I get older I try to appreciate some of the better things in life,â€ť Ken said. â€śIf you stay healthy and happy you can do a lot and make a lot of people happy. And thatâ€™s what we do here.â€ť
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, @schmittnbh or firstname.lastname@example.org.