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DSM Forward: The Future of Living History Farms

Masks at Living History Farms

The Greater Des Moines Partnership DSM Forward webinar series offers insight on moving the Greater Des Moines (DSM) region forward in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. As plans are made and businesses reopen, The Partnership has put together resources for employers at DSMpartnership.com/DSMForward.

The “DSM Forward: The Future of Living History Farms” webinar focuses on what happened to Living History Farms (LHF) when COVID-19 hit, precautions being taken at the outdoor museum and winter event info, among other things. Ruth Haus, president of LHF, shares how spring break camps, historic dinners and other events were affected when businesses were closed in mid-March.

Changes in Programming

Day Camps

After a brief shutdown until early June, LHF had a week to onboard and train staff prior to reopening while also creating new screening and other precautions ahead of welcoming attendees and day campers. In 2020, they welcomed 680 students, less than previous years, in order to comply with new regulations and cleaning protocols put in place.

Frontline interpreters took to wearing period clothing, as well as masks. Haus says it has taken time to get used to seeing them like that, but volunteers and other workers have adjusted to the changes and still ensured visitors a well-rounded LHF experience.

Food at LHF

For now, the snack shop can only provide pre-packaged items to visitors. Haus says kids are bringing their own lunches, which hasn’t changed much from pre-COVID. LHF has welcomed two schools for field trips already. This has brought on new experiences for social distancing during lunch and rearranging picnic tables to accommodate. As summer transitions to fall, Haus says that LHF will continue plans for Applefest, Fido on the Farms and historic dinners.

Homeschool DayProgramming for At-Home Learners

For children learning at home and in school, homeschool events will continue to be offered quarterly. Further outreach has begun to reach out to families learning at home, whether on their own or in pods. This includes Fall Homeschool Day on Friday, September 4. Haus says that technology offerings are slim at LHF, as they would have been in 1870, but there are plans to consider technology-friendly options after the season closes for winter.

COVID-19 Precautions

Haus says that LHF has implemented quite a few PPE precautions to ensure safety throughout the grounds. These include:

  • Increased hand sanitizer
  • Required masks
  • Social-distancing practices between the 1876 town and the farms
  • Fewer hands-on activities, more demonstrations

Engaging WinterRed Barn

During winter break, Haus says they will focus on celebrations. LHF received accreditation and is also celebrating 50 years in 2020. Winter events will include showcasing collections at Red Barn Gallery with additional exhibit space, as well as adult education classes (baking, blacksmithing, etc.). The only event susceptible to cancelation is the Living History Farms Race. Considerations are being made on whether that event can continue safely amid COVID-19.

Watch the entire webinar below:


Find Living History Farms COVID-19 resources here.

You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

DSM USA is the regional identifier for Greater Des Moines (DSM). DSM USA is a bold statement to the world: This is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community with affordable and accessible amenities for residents and businesses. This regional identifier is the result of significant quantitative and qualitative research. The Partnership will champion the DSM USA message, and encourages its Investors, its more than 6,000 Regional Business Members and DSM USA Ambassadors to help share the region's story with One Voice.