Get in the Holiday Spirit at Snowman’s Reindeer Farm in Canton
Scott and Tracy Snowman of Fulton County have been making holiday magic come to life for Illinois families for the past four years. In 2015, the couple – both teachers by trade – began raising reindeer, and Snowman’s Reindeer Farm was born.
“We have always loved children, animals, teaching and all things Christmas,” Tracy Snowman says. “Scott has always been involved in agriculture – he has raised and managed pheasants, dogs, cows, pigs, horses and chickens. He talked about reindeer for years, and I thought he was joking.”
But he wasn’t. In 2015, the Snowmans (who also happen to have the perfect last name for their job) adopted a baby bull and yearling female reindeer, and began slowly growing a herd. Instead of traveling to events with the reindeer, they decided to test opening their farm to the public to see if people were interested in visiting the animals at their home.
“They came. And they kept coming,” Tracy says. “Each year we keep adding more to do on the farm to multiply the fun. We expect 10,000 visitors in 2019. It feels as though we’ve been destined for this because it combines all the things we love. Making families happy at Christmas is pure joy.”
Have You Herd?
Snowman’s Reindeer Farm has grown to include five reindeer. Snowball and Mistletoe became parents to Sugar Plum in 2018 and Griswold in 2019. The herd also includes Kringle (age 2), who is expected to have a baby with Sugar Plum in spring 2020.
“Each reindeer has a very unique personality. Snowball is gorgeous and weighs close to 400 pounds in the fall,” Tracy says. “He is a real show-off, so he’s the first reindeer visitors see when they enter the main gate. He is in the pasture, so he can follow visitors and interact with them through the fence. – he loves having his picture taken.”
Mama Mistletoe has a ladylike, calming presence.
“Mistletoe is a wonderful mom and absolutely fantastic with children,” Tracy says. “She is our grandson Luke’s favorite reindeer. She can be a little feisty with the other reindeer sometimes and gets quite bossy with Snowball.”
Baby “Grizzy” has lots of energy, which makes him comical to watch.
“He is sweet and friendly, so he will be a star for sure,” Tracy says. “His sister, Sugar Plum, is more like a dog than a reindeer. She loves people and attention and will let you pet and feed her. She tries to follow you if she gets the chance … right into the house.”
Kringle has been known to be a bit too friendly, jumping up on the fence with excitement.
“Kringle is the wild one,” Tracy says. “He’s also the most photogenic of the herd, as he is our only silver-colored reindeer. He has white inside his ears and a white rim around his eyes, making him extra adorable.”
A Merry Menagerie
Visitors to Snowman’s Reindeer Farm can usually pet and feed the reindeer, though the Snowmans don’t promise it because they don’t force the animals to do anything they don’t want to do.
“Reindeer are naturally curious and affectionate, so they almost always enjoy the attention and choose to interact with visitors,” Tracy says.
At the visitor center, guests enjoy free arts and crafts activities and lots of educational information about reindeer. The nearby reindeer barn houses the animals and provides opportunities for interacting with them and taking photos. Sugar Plum Pavilion acts as the nursery for baby reindeer and includes an antique sleigh and more educational information about baby reindeer. Guests can even visit Santa at the Santa Barn, buy souvenirs and gifts at the Jolly Old Elf Shoppe, and savor hot cocoa, Caribou Coffee, and locally baked cookies and cupcakes at the Flying Reindeer Snack Bar.
In 2019, the Snowmans plan to open the Mini Donkey Barn, which houses the farm’s newest residents, Jingle and Jangle. Also new in 2019, Snowman’s Reindeer Railway will open, where children can ride the Reindeer Express train for a small fee.
“We continue to grow our picture spots so families can get the pictures of a lifetime when they visit,” Tracy says. “We also have chickens and guineas (a poultry breed) that free-range at our farm. Many children are fascinated by them.”
See more: Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul
Writing in a Winter Wonderland
As if they didn’t have enough to keep them busy, the Snowmans also write and illustrate children’s books. They published their first children’s book, “’Twas the Night Before a Green Christmas,” in 2011, followed by “Reindeer Kisses” in 2016, “Snowy Secrets” in 2018 and “Reindeer Ruckus” in 2019. Their books can be purchased on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble or in the Jolly Old Elf Shoppe at the farm.
Tracy says when people find out they raise reindeer, they often ask tongue-in-cheek questions, such as “Do they fly?” or “Are they magical reindeer?” She answers “yes” to both.
“Reindeer really do run and leap. They get more than a foot off the ground quite easily,” Tracy says. “It’s truly thrilling to see them frolic. We’ve seen firsthand that they are indeed magical.”
Some people cry joyful tears, laugh or gasp when they first meet them.
“We had one little boy visit us who had nonverbal autism,” Tracy remembers. “He whispered ‘Merry Christmas’ to one of our reindeer as he touched both sides of his face. It was a moment that stayed in all our hearts. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t experience the magic power of reindeer.”
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Snowman’s Reindeer Farm
Location: 25599 E. Middle Lake Rd. in Canton
Admission: $7 Nov. 2-Dec. 20, $8 Dec. 21-23 and $10 Dec. 24. Dec. 21-24 are reservation only with online ticket sales.
Hours: Nov. 2-24: Saturdays 9 to 11 a.m. and Sundays 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 23: Fridays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 24: 9 to 11 a.m. Please check website and Facebook for updates.
Phone: (309) 647-0569