Big-time fun for adults and children at Smallwood’s
The skies were smoky, the traffic on Highway 2 was heavy, and the temperature inched past three digits.
In other words, it’s another great day at Smallwood’s Harvest in Peshastin.
The store-slash-petting-zoo-slash-amusement-park remains a popular spot for young and old regardless of weather or season.
Don Butts, co-owner of the eight-acre complex, says the biggest draws other than the store itself are the petting zoo and the cow train.
“Everybody loves the cow train,” he said.
Lest you wonder, it’s not an actual train loaded with heifers, but a train where the wagons are painted in black-and-white, to look like cows. It’s not just the children who dig the train, but adults, too, Butts said, noting that sometimes busloads of seniors arrive from the west side of the state and make a beeline for the wagons.
On this particular weekend, every wagon of the cow train was filled with either an adult or a grownup. The hazy sky filled with British Columbia smoke didn’t stop the train.
The store takes pride in selling only food products that are made in the area. Ninety-plus percent of it is made in Leavenworth, Butts said. The toys and Seahawk-themed merchandise hail from much farther, but if it’s edible, it’s from the region.
Then, there’s the produce, which includes things like pears, apples, cherries, asparagus and other Washington crops. The store, unlike the play area, is open year-round, Butts said. Closing the play area is perhaps the only concession the venue makes to the annual visit from Frosty every winter.
The grownups do some shopping, sip some coffee, and visit with friends, all in a store that from the highway doesn’t look nearly as big as it is, Butts said.
“Then people go inside and they are like, ‘Holy moly, look at all the stuff,’” Butts said. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Visitors hail from as far as Germany and the Czech Republic, a testament to the success of the venue, which started as a way to offer something family-oriented at the outskirts of tourist-packed Leavenworth.
“It started out with Mike Smallwood, and he had a bunch of kids and grandkids, and had to find a way to keep ‘em entertained,” Butts said of the creator of the venue, who married Butts’ mother-in-law. “Not a lot to offer for kids in Leavenworth so this is kind of the best of both worlds. The parents can come and relax and do some shopping and the kids go out and play.”
The games include a little go-kart track for pedal-powered racers, beanbag toss, a merry-go-round, a bouncy house, and of course, the petting zoo.
The petting zoo includes llamas, alpacas, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, emus and peacocks, most of them rescue animals at risk of being put down. Despite the constant presence and fascination of children, the animals remain pretty laid back, Butts said.
“We are pretty lucky that way,” he said.
In the future, Butts said, he would like to add a Jumpy Pillow to the children’s toys.
“We’ve got a few more ideas up our sleeve,” he said. “We are always thinking of something.”
By Sebastian Moraga, email@example.com