The sun is out, the birds are chirping and the gray drudgery of the past few months seems like a bad dream -- and for families looking to get out of the house this weekend, there's no more more wholesome an attraction than Grant's Farm in south county.
First opened in 1954, Anheuser-Busch is celebrating the farm's 60th anniversary by expanding its attractions to include swan-shaped paddle boats, a parakeet aviary and new beverage selection. Of course, there's also the iconic stables where the Budweiser Clydesdales live.
"Grant's Farm is difficult to categorize," says general manager Andy Elmore. "We're part U.S. history, St. Louis history, Busch family heritage and a zoo."
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Purchased by August Busch Sr. in 1907, the farmstead had once belonged to U.S. President and Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant, who built a cabin on the land in 1855. (Grant named the cabin "Hardscrabble," a name whose badassery has withstood the test of time.)
When the Busch family got there, they transformed the land into a classic Bavarian farmstead and gaming reserve.
Indeed, those Buschs loved to hunt, and today the grounds are still filled with deer, bison camels, kangaroos and even elephants. Though patrons can't honor the Busch family tradition of shooting those animals, they can observe the great German tradition of beer drinking.
For those of age, no visit to Grant's Farm is complete without availing themselves of the two free samples of A-B beverages. Elmore tells Daily RFT that visitors will be able to try the Johnny Appleseed cider, the company's first wholly new brand in eight years.
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Elmore says he and the Grant Farm staff are planning a handful of special events to mark 60th season, including some concerts. However, in Elmore's opinion, the enduring charm of the place is its history.
"We consider this the ancestral home of the August Busch family. We've tried to preserve those traditions."
Notably, one of Budweiser's heart-warming Clydesdale ads was filmed on location at Grant's Farm in 2007.
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Grant's Farm (10501 Gravois Road) opens for its 60th season this Saturday. There's no entrance fee, though parking is $12. For more info, check out Grant's Farm website and Facebook page.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]