Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 20, 2012

Christmas returns to the orchard

Bart Doan

DANVILLE — It certainly didn’t feel like Christmas this past weekend, with unseasonably warm temperatures, but the feelings of the holiday season were evident throughout Beasley’s Orchard during its annual Christmas at the Orchard event.

Debbie Beasley, owner of the orchard, said there is nothing quite like the holiday season, and that her favorite part of the event is how it lights up children’s faces.

“It’s all about the kids,” she said. “Santa came, and that’s probably the most fun thing for me to watch is the children as they sit down on Santa’s knee. It’s a Kodak moment.”

Another holiday treat is one that’s not likely to be found anywhere else in the county: an antique sleigh that’s more than 200 years old decorating the orchard. Throughout the day, patrons of the Christmas at the Orchard lined up next to the giant Christmas tree and took photos with the sleigh.

“Believe it or not, I was actually driving through Danville one day and a lady had it out in her yard with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it,” Beasley said. “It was made by her husband’s grandfather. It’s a really neat sleigh. It’s very old and it’s still stable. I don’t know if a horse could still pull it or not, but we have the pieces that hooked from the sleigh to the horse hanging up high.

“The body of it’s fairly heavy. It takes a couple of guys to lift it. It comes apart where the seat is, lifts off where the runners are, and sits down in a groove.”

One of the new caveats this year meshed a popular favorite from a different holiday. Beasley said that with the popularity of the pumpkin patch hay rides, they chose to offer a winter scenic ride that wound around the orchard, offering a glimpse of areas that aren’t normally seen.

Sharon O’Connell and her hammered dulcimer followed the Butler choral group and long lines waited for an old Beasley’s favorite, the cider.

“We served hot spiced cider, with a spice made especially for us,” Beasley said, noting that the cider can be bought chilled as well throughout the holiday season.

Buck Creek Winery, which hails from the southeast side of Indianapolis, was also there offering samples.

Children had a chance to take advantage of the nice weather at a bounce. There were also samples of fudge, free tastings of traditional favorite items, and unique toys on display.

The winter months haven’t totally sapped the apple crop either, as Beasley said a nice array of apples are still available at the orchard, including the popular Granny Smiths.

“We also have citrus in now, and that’s a big item for the holidays,” she said. “We do a lot with bird baskets and gift box fruits. We’ll be taking orders. Some of the other featured holiday foods are the Amish cheese, summer sausages, both regular and one that’s jalepeno cheese and that’s pretty hot and spicy. We have our medjool dates, that’s an item that a lot of the gals like to use for holiday baking ... put in breads, muffins, and cakes.”

Beasley’s Orchard is at 2304 E. Main St., Danville. For more information about the orchard’s holiday schedule, visit the website at beasleys-orchard.com.