Johnston Farm to offer After Dark event

Visitors can view decorated farmhouse

By Melody Vallieu -

PIQUA — Celebrating the season more than once at the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency is something organizers have considered for years — and this year it’s coming to fruition.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, 9845 N. Hardin Road, Piqua, will offer the first 19th century Christmas at the Johnston House After Dark.

Andy Hite, site manager, said staff and volunteers spend a lot of time each Christmas season decorating the 1815 farmhouse for the main holiday event, which this year is an “Irish Christmas at Johnston Farm.” However, the event is a reservation-only dinner that can be enjoyed by only a smaller number of people due to space constraints.

“It seemed a shame to have the house all decorated for Christmas to have it available to people for one day,” Hite said.

The After Dark event, open to the public with no reservation needed, will be be a guided tour of the Johnston House, he said.

The tour will begin in Rachel Johnston’s kitchen with cider and cookies and a chance to shop. The tour will then continue through the six fully decorated rooms, each with an individual theme, Hite said.

Hite said tours will begin on the half-hour and will take approximately 30 minutes, during which time participants will experience the Johnston House as the family would have known it, by candle and oil light, in the early- to mid-19th century. He said reenactors dressed in period clothing will be present in each room to give visitors a little history lesson.

“It’s going to be a walk-through tour and they will get a little interpretation of what the house would have looked like in the day,” said Hite, who said the entire event will last only 45 minutes to an hour.

Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis with a capacity of 20 per tour. The cost is $5, with children 5 and under free. Tickets will be distributed upon participants’ arrival for the 6, 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. tours and will begin in the Johnston kitchen on the lower level.

Hite said with it being the first year for the event, organizers don’t know really know what kind of turnout to expect, but if the event goes well, they will make adjustments in the future and hope to make the After Dark an annual event.

“This is a family event, something the kids can come to,” Hite said.

The farm generally closes for the season in October and reopens with school tours in the spring, so Hite said he is happy to add another event to the farm’s downtime.

“It’s nice to do it this time of year,” he said. “It’s the time of year when we are typically not open, which might be a good way for folks to start their Christmas season.”

Visitors are reminded to dress appropriately for the weather, and sensible shoes are suggested. The farmhouse is not handicapped-accessible.

Due to the remote location of the Johnston House, tours may be cancelled due to inclement weather. Call (937) 657-5203 if there is more than three inches of snow. Tours will be held weather permitting.

Visitors can view decorated farmhouse

By Melody Vallieu

Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131 or

Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131 or