Holidays Are Better Here: Fort Wayne & Waynedale (VIDEO)

By Eric Olson - 21Alive
By Jason Meyers - 21Alive

December 19, 2013 Updated Dec 23, 2013 at 1:23 PM EDT

INDIANA (21Alive) -- We have some great holiday traditions in Fort Wayne helping us all get in, and stay in, the holiday spirit. But one of this area's newest traditions of the season is a page out of yesteryear. It comes to us from down on the farm.

Welcome to 'Christmas on the Farm', held on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon at Fort Wayne's Salomon Farm, an event that harkens back to the days before electric lights and Black Friday sales.

The big horses are a big draw at 'Christmas on the Farm' but not the only draw. Out at the big barn a certain jolly old elf is entertaining gift ideas from young admirers.

Christmas on the farm is organized by Fort Wayne parks and recreation, another creative use for the historic Salomon Farmstead and another reason this beautiful corner of Fort Wayne is more popular every year.

This is a special event for the little ones whose experience with farm life is limited to TV or books. The music, the live nativity, the hot chocolate and the awesome historic buildings all add up to a day that helps define the season, for a growing number of us, each year.

We associate a lot of things with Christmas, decorating the tree, putting up lights and sending out Christmas cards. But none of those things tastes nearly as good as Christmas cookies.

Christmas cookies can be traced back to the Middle Ages. That's when ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, almonds and dried fruits were introduced to Europe. Back then, most experts will tell you the first Christmas cookies were gingerbread men. Nowadays, there's a much wider variety of cookie types and shapes, and you can find a lot of them at the Waynedale Bakery.

"Those are like a shortbread cookie. Just like Grandma's cookie that we'd make. We ice them with a fun icing and decorate. Then we also have the starlight cookies, like a butter cookie, Mexican wedding rings, traditional pecan rolled in powdered sugar cookies. Um, gingerbread men,” Christine said.

All these cookies spread holiday cheer, and this particular bakery and its customers are doing their best to pay it forward. For a dollar, customers can enter a contest to win this Gingerbread House. And all those proceeds go to Fort Wayne resident Aleigha Sweet, an 11-year-old who's fighting cancer for the third time in her life. This single act of kindness just goes to show this is a bakery with a big heart. But it's also the little things it does for its customers. Like the special request for this giant gingerbread man.

"We have a little gingerbread man that we're doing that somebody will get when they find the pickle on the Christmas tree. So they'll get that big gingerbread man," Christine said.

Every holiday season, this bakery bakes, ices, and sprinkles hundreds of dozens of cookies. They've been doing this for nearly 60 years, using recipes that have been passed down. And maybe it's the sugar high... maybe it's the kindness that comes complimentary with your cookies... either way, they're doing their part to make the holidays better here.

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