display exhibits at the homestead craft village

Spend a Day at Waco’s Homestead Craft Village

display exhibits at the homestead craft village
Aug 15, 2023

A visit to Waco’s Homestead Craft Village is like stepping into a simpler time, when home goods were made by hand and people lived in close-knit communities.

This 18-acre property is set within a larger 500-acre farm, dotted with historic barns and mature Texas greenery. Inside the pioneer-style buildings, talented craftspeople weave baskets, mold pottery, and grind flour just like homesteaders of the 19th century.

Spend a day watching these skilled artisans at work and purchase some goodies to take home with you before you leave.

Morning: Pottery, Stone-Ground Grains, & Tea Time

Start your visit to Homestead Craft Village at The Barn. Homestead builders carefully restored this 200-year-old Dutch barn, and it now serves as a showplace for the work of the various artisans on the property. You’ll find handmade items including soaps, candles, and quilts alongside how-to books on topics like gardening and self-sufficiency.

Next door at The Potter’s House (also called Homestead Pottery), browse the shelves of heirloom-quality, hand-thrown pieces. You can purchase vases, pitchers, mugs, dinner plates, and crocks to bring home. You may also catch artisans in action, with potters shaping clay on foot-powered pottery wheels.

Pro tip: As you tour the shops, inquire about “Make Your Own” projects for kids (and adults). These quick creations can be made in 5 to 15 minutes, like a pinch pot at The Potter’s House or a brass spoon at Heritage Forge.

After perusing the pottery, head to the Woodworking Shop (also called Heritage Furniture) to explore the traditional art of fine furniture building. Watch the experts as they teach classes or work on tables and chairs, armoires, blanket chests, and more. Wood is hand-cut, steam-bent, and carefully carved to make functional furniture.

Cross a stone-arch footbridge to reach Homestead Gristmill, circa 1760. Watch the millers operate the mill—still powered by a waterwheel—to make fine flour and stone-ground grains. You can buy sacks of fresh flour and cornmeal, plus mixes like Pecan Waffle Mix and Holiday Sugar Cookie Mix for easy baking.

If you need a midmorning snack, order a cup of tea and a freshly baked scone at the Gristmill Tea House!

For your last stop of the morning, visit Homestead Fiber Crafts in a 19th-century barn, relocated to Waco from Middleburgh, New York. Inside, weavers and spinners create cloth and other textiles. Shop for hand-woven clothing, blankets, scarves, and towels. Or purchase yarn and supplies for a weaving, knitting or crocheting project you’re working on at home.

Afternoon: Hay Rides, Blacksmithing, and Woven Baskets

After a morning touring the shops and wandering the grounds, stop for lunch at Cafe Homestead. The menu’s sandwiches and burgers are made with pasture-raised beef, local cheese, and house-made condiments.

The cafe used to be in a cedar log cabin, but a tragic fire in December 2022 destroyed the building. Within just six months, the cafe was rebuilt, bigger and better than ever. While it’s a new build, it was designed with cedar logs like the original cafe and incorporates the same rustic, hand-hewn style as the rest of the property.

After lunch, go for a horse-drawn hay ride. These rides run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and take visitors to a beautiful scenic overlook on an 80-foot bluff. Catch your ride next to The Barn where you started your tour. You can purchase tickets for the hayride inside the Gift Shop.

When your ride ends, step into a pre-industrial blacksmith shop at Heritage Forge. Watch blacksmiths pump the bellows and transform raw metal into beautiful iron pieces like dinner bells, fireplace tools, pot racks, chandeliers, and more.

Across from the forge, the Settlers Cabin is home to Homestead Baskets. This one-room cabin was built in Missouri around 1830 and carefully moved to Waco in 2002. The baskets inside are both beautiful and practical, woven from white oak splints, rattan, and long pine needles. Shop for completed baskets, or pick up supplies to make your own.

Back outside, visit The Heritage Farm with vegetable and herb gardens, an orchard, and a restored barn.

Take Classes at Homestead Craft Village

For a hands-on experience, you can book classes online at www.sustainlife.org. Choose from over 120 different classes in topics ranging from beekeeping to soap making to pottery and more. Take a three-day course in ax making at Heritage Forge, or learn how to make a harvest basket at Homestead Baskets.

Before You Go…

Visit some additional shops on the grounds! Located just down the road from primary Craft Village, you can walk to these shops or hop in the car for a short half-mile drive.

At Heritage Coffee, get an espresso drink or an iced coffee, plus scratch-made scones. This barn-style space has been updated with two large walls of windows to brighten up the rustic beams and wood walls. Pick up a bag of roasted coffee beans to take home.

Heritage Market offers locally sourced and organic foods. Visitors can pick up grass-fed beef and natural lamb, pastured chicken and eggs, and organic milk, butter, and cream. There’s also an artisan bakery onsite for fresh-baked bread.

Don’t skip the award-winning raw milk cheeses at Brazos Valley Cheese. Sample their cheddar, brie, and original Van Sorman, aged in an underground cheese cave. Or purchase a wedge to take home. You may also find their cheeses on the Cafe Homestead menu.

At the Homestead General Store, you’ll find supplies for more sustainable living. The shelves are laden with canning supplies and garden tools, books about homesteading, candles, goat milk lotion, and much more. You can also get livestock feed, herb and vegetable transplants, and even chickens for fresh-laid eggs. You’re bound to find something interesting, whether you’re farming multiple acres or tending a windowsill herb garden.

If you visit on a Friday or Saturday, make room in your itinerary for a stop at Red Wagon BBQ. This food stand next to Homestead Heritage Market serves slow-smoked brisket and beef ribs made from all-natural Angus beef. There’s also delicious smoked chicken and hearty BBQ sides. Bring your meal into the shaded pavilion, or take it to go.

Annual Events at Homestead Craft Village

While you can visit the Homestead Craft Village year round, there are a couple of special events each year to mark on your calendar.

The Annual Sorghum Festival every Labor Day celebrates the tradition of pressing sorghum syrup, a sweetener that was common in rural Texas in the early and mid-20th century. At the festival, artisans will press the raw cane in a horse-powered mill. Sample sweet sorghum on a piece of fresh-baked cornbread. There will also be craft demonstrations, make-your-own activities, and horse-drawn hayrides around the village.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the Annual Homestead Fair honors the traditions of handcrafting and sustainable living. Watch the artisans at work, and shop at the many stores and stalls. Enjoy scratch-made food from kiosks across the grounds, and listen to live bluegrass and gospel music.

There are also agricultural demonstrations, like sheep shearing and herding, barn raising, butter and cheese making, and much more. Exact attractions vary from year to year, so check their event website before you plan your visit!

Contact the Waco TPID

Waco Tourism Public Improvement District Corporation

424 Clay Avenue, Suite 2343
Waco, TX 76706
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