By Rebecca Powers
Summer is birthday “season” for my family, and that means birthday parties! Champaign-Urbana is home to lots of great birthday party venues, and many of those places have been covered by the Chambanamoms Area Birthday Guide. This year, my daughter’s theme (you’ve gotta have a theme with this girl) was Wild Kratts. You know, the PBS show all about animals. So, we got to looking here in town and decided on Prairie Farm. It’s an endearing little farm right in the middle of Champaign, next to Sholem Aquatic Center.
Booking a party at Prairie Farm is easy. Just call the Champaign Park District (217-398-2583) and give them your requested date and number of party guests… booked. They do ask that once the date is booked that payment be made in person a few weeks prior to that date, at Leonhard Recreation Center (conveniently located next door to the farm). The cost is $120.00 for up to 15 children. For you over planners, in case inclement weather strikes during the party, they do have a backup location on one side of the llama barn.
Prairie Farm is home to lots of farm animals like cows, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, llamas, miniature ponies, turkeys, and more! Parties are held in the back area of the farm, with plenty of shade and picnic tables (we counted seven ready for our use). The party package includes private use of the farm from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (offered daily), a special 45 minute tour with up close and personal contact with the animals, a piñata filled with candy that they hang up (think traditional donkey), simple interactive animal themed games, and party favors (usually a few toys and pieces of candy).
The staff was very helpful and friendly and helped us carry our birthday supplies and offered to assist us in setting up the area. They had a box full of their own party supplies, and though we used all of our own themed items, it was nice to know they had backup table cloths and a “Happy Birthday” banner we could use (included in the fee). The staff really is there to tailor the party to your needs and plan. We were impressed with their flexibility, a must have with kids. A personalized whiteboard “Happy Birthday” welcome sign was placed near the front gates to direct guests where to go.
Our Farm Guides were Elijah and Aubrey, and they really did a fabulous job bringing the animal world to light for the group of kids (and adults) that attended our party. They were both very knowledgeable and answered lots of kid “questions”, as candid as they were. The tour was thorough, and we were taken throughout the grounds. Everyone was permitted to pet a mini pony, baby goat, duck, baby chick, and a rabbit. The children loved it! The entire birthday package was a blast.
Don’t worry if your kids’ birthdays aren’t during the summer months (the only time the Farm is open). Prairie Farm is open for daily visits, scheduled educational tours, and programs/camps that can be registered for through the Champaign Park District. They even have a story time open for all ages from 2:00-3:00 p.m. on Mondays through August 1, 2016. If your child is into animals or if you’re looking for something unique and fun to do in Champaign, Prairie Farm really is a fun ven-moo (I mean venue)!
NOTE: Closed toed shoes are required!
2202 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign, IL
Farm Hours: Monday-Sunday 1pm-7pm
Petting Area Hours: Monday-Sunday 3pm-5pm
Admission: FREE, but donations are appreciated.
Parking for Prairie Farm is just off of Kirby Ave. (between Mattis Ave. and Duncan Rd.) and a short walk to the entrance gate.
2016 closing date: August 14.
Questions about the birthday package at Prairie Farm can be sent to email@example.com or you can call during business hours at 217-398-2583.
Becca is a native of Effingham and an ISU graduate. She and her hubby James have lived in Champaign for eight years. When their spunky little girl, Sydney, arrived almost five years ago, she decided to leave the world of marketing to “stay home” and show her the world. She and her family love Chambana and all that it and the surrounding areas have to offer.