Kentucky’s only open-to-the-public reindeer farm is south of Bowling Green
One of Jessica Anderson’s earliest Christmas Eve memories is of her father taking her outside at bedtime to look for Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer in the night sky.
“Every year! We would stand out in the cold and strain to see if we could spot them,” she says. “One year in particular, I remember standing outside in a nightgown and snow boots, no coat, in the snow. That was the year I caught a glimpse of Rudolph’s red nose. It was a red, blinking light on some sort of tower by our house.”
Fast forward to adulthood and Jessica, co-owner of The Reindeer Farm in Warren County, with her husband, Russell, still has a love for all things Christmas and a fascination for reindeer.
It was only a few years ago that Jessica and Russell, Warren RECC consumer-members, weren’t even sure it was possible to raise reindeer in the commonwealth. Russell was working third shift, while Jessica was home taking care of their daughters, Aniston and Ashton, and son, Russell.
Jessica says she got a late-night phone call from Russell, who was wishing they could spend more time together as a family. “I was like, ‘Well, I love Christmas,’” Jessica recalls. “‘We could do something with Christmas.’”
In fact, she had already been looking online at a reindeer farm in Michigan and thought about loading up the family for a visit there, but a 16-hour round-trip drive with three children, all then under 4, was daunting. Jessica got an idea—could she and Russell open a reindeer farm here in Kentucky?
Since reindeer aren’t native to the state, Russell was a little hesitant. Even so, Jessica stayed up all night researching. By the time Russell got home the next morning, she had this news about the reindeer farm idea: “It was going to be very hard, but it was possible.”
The couple soon visited a reindeer farm and fell in love with the animals. They began learning all they could about reindeer. Once the journey was underway, it was four years before their dreams came true. The Reindeer Farm, the only reindeer farm in the state open to the public, began welcoming visitors in 2020.
Now in their third holiday season, The Reindeer Farm continues to grow and is currently home to nine reindeer: Rudolph and his mom Flea, plus Blitzen, Mistletoe, Clarice, Fireball, Moodolf, and two new residents who just arrived from the north in October, Sprinkles and Snowball.
Farm-favorite Blitzen is a ham who loves people so much, he’d rather hang out with the guests than with the other reindeer. He’s been known to fall asleep standing up at the gate (reindeer typically sleep lying down) because he doesn’t want to miss out on any of the holiday excitement. Moodolf, another favorite among visitors, is a pinto—white with brown spots—and sort of resembles a cow, except he sports antlers that are 42.5 inches tall.
“Reindeer are very majestic creatures, even when they aren’t pulling Santa’s sleigh,” explains Jessica, describing the animals as graceful, adaptive and naturally curious, with warm, fuzzy noses.
That magical rooftop “click, click, click” that children listen for on Christmas Eve could be from the reindeers’ prancing hooves or from the tendon in their ankles that clicks when they walk. Either way, Jessica says, “They only fly for Santa with Christmas magic when he takes his big flight around the world.”
Besides reindeer, the farm’s two petting zoos are home to bunnies, pigs, alpacas, ponies, miniature donkeys, Highland cows and more. Kids enjoy outdoor games, a bounce house and unlimited train rides. Inside, visitors can check out the gift shop and indoor playground, catch one of the all-day holiday movies. Everyone is encouraged to sing their favorite holiday tunes on the new Christmas karaoke stage.
A food truck is available onsite, as well as a wine vendor offering free tastings. Free hot chocolate around a roaring fire pit also helps beat the winter chill.
A variety of events and activities are scheduled daily, such as cookie decorating, Grinch Day, and live ice sculpting by Food Network’s Outrageous Pumpkin champion Danny Kissel, who will wow the crowd with this season’s theme, A Muppet’s Christmas Carol. And, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus are frequent farm visitors.
Jessica enjoys sharing The Reindeer Farm with others. Since Christmas traditions are important to her family, it’s especially meaningful to see other families making memories of their own at the farm, she says.
“We’re geared up, and we’re ready,” she adds. “And we’re excited to see everybody’s smiling faces and see everybody’s reactions to meeting real live reindeer in person.”
The Reindeer Farm
2541 Old Union Church Road, Bowling Green, KY
Facebook: The Reindeer Farm
Hours: November 18 through December 18; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Christmas week: December 19–23; 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Cost: Visitors can opt for a day pass, $15 per person; or the day pass, plus schedule in advance a Reindeer Encounter—30-minute up-close experience to meet the reindeer, $35 per person. Children 2 and under free, as long as they are held.