Families

It may not be ‘Gunsmoke,’ but this town offers pony rides, a petting zoo and a pumpkin patch

Kids ride ponies in the pony ring at Dan Cramer’s Western Town in Lynden. Western Town can be reserved for children’s parties and birthdays.
Kids ride ponies in the pony ring at Dan Cramer’s Western Town in Lynden. Western Town can be reserved for children’s parties and birthdays. The Bellingham Herald file

Dan Cramer grew up across the road from his grandmother’s farm south of Lynden. When he bought the property in 1989, he began creating an old-West setting, like in the TV shows he absorbed as a child.

“I preferred ‘Gunsmoke’ because of the stagecoach,” he recalls.

Cramer enjoys seeing children experience a taste of farm life, pioneer-style, so he began creating Dan Cramer’s Western Town step-by-step. He added pioneer storefronts – including a saloon and a jail – to the side of a chicken coop. He raises farm animals – including ducks, goats, rabbits, horses, sheep and pigs – for a petting zoo.

He’s got carriages and wagons. Horses and ponies. Youngsters can sit atop ponies circling in a ring, and can ride in a kiddie train pulled by a tractor.

Cramer also offers what he calls a “fun zone,” with a hay jump, hay maze, draft-horse rides, bonfires, campfires and other activities.

“We have a lot of fun toys for kids,” he says.

Whatcom County families have several ways to enjoy Western Town:

Pumpkin Patch: Western Town will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays in October for its pumpkin patch. Draft horses pull a trolley to transport people to pick pumpkins in a field.

School trips: Every year, several thousand youngsters visit during field trips and preschool outings. School visits are available Tuesdays through Fridays, by appointment.

Family events: Parents can call to arrange a low-cost farm visit, and Western Town can be reserved for children’s parties and birthdays. Cramer also has a mobile petting zoo that can be taken to a family’s home or other location.

For the general public, Western Town hosts company picnics, engagement photos, weddings, anniversaries and other events. Cramer also provides wagon and carriage rides off-site, a horse-drawn hearse for funeral processions, and western-style decor for events.

Western Town is a bit of a working farm, too. He sells farm animals once they outgrow the cute and cuddly stage, and he sells harnesses and trains horses.

“I had my first driving horse when I was in high school,” he says. “I was always fascinated with horses.”

Cramer, 64, is always thinking about new activities and attractions for Western Town. It’s his way to share his love of animals and farm life with others, especially children who have little to no exposure to life in the country.

He finds joys helping kids get up-close to animals, and to sit on a pony for the first time.

Appropriatley, Western Town nestles in a rural setting in northern Whatcom County, a few miles south of Lynden. The farm, with its views of open country and scenic mountains, has been home to the Cramer family ever since his grandmother journeyed there by covered wagon from North Dakota.

“I’ve been here forever,” Cramer says.

Dan Cramer’s Western Town

October Pumpkin Patch: Open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays in October.

Preschool visits and school field trips: Tuesdays through Fridays, by appointment.

Birthday parties, company picnics, family visits, weddings, and other events: By appointment.

Location: 956 Van Dyk Road

Details: 360-510-7466

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