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Happy’s Farm ‘Salute To Freedom’ Event

By Bob Wingate for the Salisbury Post

Happy’s Farm announces its “Salute to Freedom” Memorial Day event, in honor of all active and retired U.S. veterans, on Saturday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday’s event will feature a brand new “Salute to Freedom” tunnel, which displays military memorabilia from all branches of service, and also features five mural paintings by local artist Cherrathee Hager. The tunnel is dedicated to Rhonda Stirewalt’s maternal grandfather, Irving Barringer, an Air Force veteran, and Gabby Trexler, a retired Army veteran. “Rodney’s Train Depot,” home of the “Cress Express” train, is dedicated to Rodney Cress, a retired Army veteran.

This event is also a kickoff to Happy’s Farm’s newest venture, a veterans’ therapeutic program designed to help veterans of all ages, especially those with disabilities such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), which is funded in part through grants by the National Disabled Veterans Foundation, the Woodson Foundation and a gift by Frances Trexler.

The non-profit organization, chartered in 2010 by owner Stirewalt, offers programs such as educational tutoring, after-school care, birthday parties, and summer camps and activities for all children in Rowan County. Its relaxed, informal environment provides an ideal setting for fun and learning. The farm is designed in a western motif with toy replicas of stores, as well as a “real” candy store and hotel with kitchen, art and game rooms, movie theater, and educational classrooms. Outdoor venues include pastures with horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, pig and other animals, as well as a picnic shelter, open pavilion and train tunnel.

Stirewalt says, “Happy’s Farm would not exist, were it not for the support and help of my parents.” She would also like to thank Ralph and Linda Ketner, who graciously donated for the construction of the farm’s picnic shelter and kitchen, and veterans Rodney Cress and Gabby Trexler, who donated both finances and hard work to making this event and project possible.

This event is free and open to the public, and especially welcome to all U.S. veterans and their families. Musical entertainment will be provided by guitarist Bob Wingate. Hot dogs and homemade chili will be for sale. A $5 “kids’ pass” will be available, which gives children access to pony and train rides, as well as the bouncy house and playground, with proceeds going to benefit the new veterans program. Donations to fund the Happy’s Farm programs will also be accepted Saturday from both individuals and businesses.

Happy’s Farm is located at 985 Parks Road in Salisbury, off of Old Concord Road, near Happy Lake. Contact Rhonda Stirewalt with questions or for more information at happysfarminc@yahoo.com or by calling 704-798-6800.

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