Back in the ’90s, Hunsader Farms held an annual event called Country Christmas. It was only around for a few years, and it has been dormant for about 20 years.
It’s back this year, and it should be bigger than ever.
“We’ve been bugging our father to do it again and he finally said, ‘Oh, alright,’ ” said Rachel Hunsader-Sliker, one of the managers at Hunsader Farms.
Earlier this week, she said workers had already put up 280,000 Christmas lights around the farm, and that many more would be up by the time the festival starts Friday evening. At its peak in the 1990s, the festival had “only” about 200,000 lights, Hunsader-Sliker said.
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It’s about more than just lights, of course. The event features hayrides, pony rides, games, live music, kiddie train rides, nightly outdoor screenings of Christmas movies and even a visit from Santa Claus.
The Hunsader Farms petting zoo, which usually costs $5, will be open for free during Country Christmas. The zoo features the usual farm animals, but one of its more exotic beasts is a kangaroo. The kangaroo is mostly nocturnal, so it may be a little more lively for this nighttime even than it is during the day.
Country Christmas is designed to be smaller and a little more relaxed than the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival, the biggest event of the year at the farms and one of the biggest festivals in the area, Hunsader-Sliker said.
Details: 6-10 p.m. Dec 8-9, 15-16 and 20-23, Hunsader Farms, 5500 C.R. 675, Bradenton. $10; children age 5 and under free. 941-322-2168, hunsaderfarms.com.