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Mayowood and more — Garden tours grow into family festival

By Tom Weber

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Gardens tend to grow and change, and now the annual Mayowood garden tour has done the same thing.

Visitors to Mayowood June 30 will not only be able to view the historic mansion’s gardens, but will have a full schedule of activities to choose from, including nature walks, yoga lessons, storytelling, traditional games and live music.

All are part of what is now the Mayowood Family Festival, a name change that recognizes how this garden has grown.

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"The history center (of Olmsted County) had focus groups last year and they told us the community would like to see more events for families," said Jane Yunginger, chairwoman of the festival. "They also want the history center to interpret history, to tell stories of Olmsted County and local people."

At Mayowood, that can only mean stories about the Mayo family, and the grand estate developed by Dr. Charles Mayo in the early years of the 20th century.

"Dr. Charlie and Edith loved nature," Yunginger said. "They wanted their children to grow up outdoors."

That’s exactly where today’s children will be able to spend their time at the Mayowood Family Festival.

"We’re hoping to do events that would encourage children to just go outside and play," Yunginger said.

In fact, as "Young" Dr. Charlie Mayo, now 77, remembers growing up at Mayowood, "He refers to it as a child’s paradise," Yunginger said. "The kids had free run of the grounds."

Kids won’t have quite that much freedom June 30, but they will be able to experience not only the outdoors, but much of the natural environment of Mayowood, especially the birds. "The Mayos were very interested in birds," Yunginger said.

All visitors, of course, will be able to view the Mayowood gardens, which continue to be restored. "The steps, I think, are small, but we’re no longer spending all of our time doing clearing," Yunginger said. "We now have to do a lot of maintaining."

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Go&Do

WHAT: Mayowood Family Festival.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 30

WHERE: Mayowood Mansion. Parking and shuttle buses from Bamber Valley School.

ADMISSION: Tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for children ages 4-17 in advance at Sargent’s on Second, ABC Toy Zone, Hunt Silver Lake Drug, History Center of Olmsted County and the Leisure and Lifestyle office at Mayo Clinic. Tickets on June 30 are $8 for adults, $5 for children, available at the Bamber Valley School parking lot.

Activities include birds of prey from Oxbow Park, interactive games with birds, nature walks with Kirk Payne of Quarry Hill Nature Center, hillside water garden tours, mansion tours, farm animals, fairy gardens, hopscotch, hoops and other games, music by Jake Donze, history hunt and nature hunt.

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