On May 3, I officially visited Maymont for the first time. I was astounded by the endless green hills and the elaborate paths leading to the gardens, animals, and waterfalls. The land was filled with peaceful dog walkers and VCU students capturing pictures and painting the scenery.
Maymont is located just south of Carytown, across the Nickel Bridge from Westover Hills, and annually receives about half a million visitors. The grounds are open daily for free, and it is a great place for a family hike and animal lovers. Maymont offers a variety of events, such as a tour of the Maymont mansion, carriage rides, and walking and nature center tours. Every week people schedule birthday parties, weddings, and even corporate events.
I spent most of my time at the farm and wildlife exhibits. On March 26, thousands of people came for the reopening of the farm after a year-long, $3 million dollar renovation that is meant to enhance the visitor experience. Two new classrooms were added that make new educational programs and classes available. The bathrooms were expanded, along with a new hand-washing station, old fences were removed so visitors can get closer, and there is now thirty-six percent more parking. People of all ages are able to feel the wool of sheep and feed all the animals with grass pellets. The grass pellets were in a food dispenser, costing $0.50 for a handful.
Quarterless, I thought my trip was about to be cut short. After a few panicked moments, I rushed to the vending machine, inserted a dollar, and hit the refund button. I was relieved by the sound of quarters falling but was confused by only receiving $0.50 back. I didn’t dwell on it too long and was off to the exhibit.
There are six paddocks on each side of the barn divided by each type of animal. The new building is surrounded by picnic tables and gardens. The horse stables and bison surround the farm, along with an eagle exhibit. Some of the animals are a little shy or would rather enjoy a nap to themselves. The highlight of the exhibit were the baby goats. Captivating visitors by their cuteness, there was a small line behind their pen. The pigs were one of the reasons I was drawn to the farm, but unfortunately I was visiting during their 4:30 nap. I was caught off guard by how easily the animals would approach visitors. I was also struck by the odor.
It was slightly nerve-racking reaching my hand in the paddock for the first time. I feared that some of the animals might take a hack at my fingers. I had the opportunity to feed goats, sheep, a donkey, and chickens. With only $.50 worth of food, I missed out on the ducks, pigs, rabbits, and sheep.
I’ve never exactly been in love with nature or found myself desperate to go hiking or to take a trip to the river. I was impressed by how friendly and comfortable Maymont is for visitors. Its versatility is what makes it special and unique for Richmonders. I’m so glad to have finally had the chance to discover Maymont and its outstanding facilities. I hope some of you have the chance to go experience the new farm and its amazing animals.