Published on September 15, 2020

Virtual Hey Day Festival

Families enjoying a tractor hayride at Hey Day © Bruce Dean
© Bruce Dean

Hey Day HistoryVirtual Festivities • Vendor Marketplace • In-Person Activities • Help the Sanctuary

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Current health and safety guideline prevent us from hosting our usual Hey Day festival at Wachusett Meadow. However, we still welcome the opportunity to stay connected to the many friends, neighbors, volunteers, vendors, and community partners that come together each year to celebrate the fall season and support the sanctuary.

There are many ways you can experience the festival this September and October, both virtually and in-person! Whether you are new to this event or you've attended in the past, we appreciate your participation. Happy Hey Day!

History of Hey Day

Black & white image of a girl enjoying a pony ride at Hey Dey

The tradition of Hey Day reaches all the way back to the early 1960's, when a "fall day of fun in the country" was organized "to acquaint Worcester County families with Wachusett Meadow and raise money to aid in the operation of the wildlife sanctuary."

Now, more than 45 years later, Hey Day is still celebrated in much the same way!

Some aspects of the festival have come and gone, but many have remained throughout the years. These popular attractions include hayrides, pumpkin painting, live music, pony rides, and a vendor marketplace of local farmers and craft artisans. 

Other activities are more recent additions, such as canoeing on Wildlife Pond—something made possible thanks to beavers expanding our wetlands. 

Do you have a family Hey Day photo? We would love to see it! Send in your photos >

Virtual Festivities

Pumpkins, Veggie Critters, & Scarecrows (Oh My!)

Smiling veggie critter © Barbara Weinstein
© Barbara Weinstein

Show us your family's creative side! Harvest from your own garden, or support local farms and farm workers by purchasing pumpkins, gourds, and other veggies at a nearby farmer's market or farm stand.

  • As the classic "canvas" of fall, pumpkins are always great for carving, painting, and decorating with fun designs!
  • Create a veggie critter out of gourds, squash, or other fall produce.
  • Try crafting a scarecrow from harvested corn stalks, hay, sticks, broom handles, scrap fabric, and other found items.

→ When you're done, share a photo of your creation(s) as part of our Virtual Hey Day Harvest! Send us photos > 

Family Fun

Scavenger Hunt

Explore your neighborhood or local park to see if your family can spot everything on the list! Click the link below to download.

Nature Bingo

Mass Audubon Bingo Card - Nature Bingo #2

Coloring Page

Wachusett Meadow coloring page
Download now > Download now >

Vendor Marketplace

Hey Day has always featured a terrific variety of local farmers, craft artisans, and exhibitors—and this year is no exception! Many of our local vendors from previous years are still participating our virtual festival, and all of them would truly appreciate your support.

Whether you shop with them online or in-person, we hope you'll consider purchasing from these small businesses and organizations:

Mountainside Bakery & Café (Princeton)
ice cream, sandwiches, handmade pastry, local coffee, craft beer, & wine

Monti Farms & Deli (Princeton) 
fruits, vegetables, ice cream, deli, sandwiches, prepared foods, & grocery items

Elzire's Acre (Princeton • Online Shop)
local, handmade goat milk soap

Jen Niles Art (Multiple Locations • Online Shop)
custom art, cards, & gifts

Hillside Herbals (Princeton)
herbal teas & tinctures

Red Barn Cookies (Online Shop)
signature cookies, custom cookies, brownies, & stuffed muffins

In-Person Activities

Watch Artists at Work

Painting en plein air at Wachusett Meadow © Julie Mankowsky
© Julie Mankowsky

The Princeton Arts Society (PAS) has been a longtime supporter of Hey Day. This year, members of PAS will set up their canvases and easels en plein air (outdoors) to take their inspiration directly from scenes at Wachusett Meadow. Stop by the sanctuary to see these artists create new, original artworks!

  • Saturday, September 19
  • Saturday, October 3

In the case of bad weather, rain dates will be scheduled.


Available October 17–October 24

What would fall be without a hayride? Enjoy a scenic ride through the sanctuary's meadow in a tractor-pulled hay wagon. Cost is $20 per household group (maximum 10 people). Advanced reservations required. 

To reserve your spot(s), please email us or call the sanctuary at 978-464-2712.

Canoeing on Wildlife Pond

Available through October 31

This popular Hey Day activity is still available! Come explore the sanctuary's different habitats by water. Advanced reservations required. For the best availability, we ask that you reserve a canoe 1-2 days in advance

Learn More & Reserve >

Help Support the Sanctuary

Young child painting a pumpkin during Hey Day at Wachusett Meadow

Hey Day is Wachusett Meadow's largest annual fundraiser. Proceeds from the festival help sustain nearly all aspects of sanctuary operations including land conservation, environmental education, and maintenance of our buildings and trails.

This year, COVID-19 forced the sanctuary to close and cancel all in-person programs for several months. That's why we need your support now more than ever. Donations in any amount are welcome and incredibly appreciated! 

Make a Donation >

Mass Audubon Hike-a-thon

Sunday, October 25 – Saturday, October 31

Another way you can support the sanctuary is by signing up for Mass Audubon's first Hike-a-thon! The best part? You can participate in this event from anywhere in the world. Registration fees will be directed to support Wachusett Meadow, or any Mass Audubon sanctuary of your choosing.

→ Event details and registration info coming soon! ←