Michigan Sugar Company, Hausbeck Pickles & Peppers led major upgrade to play area for kids

SAGINAW, MICHIGAN – Excitement is brewing at the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum in Saginaw as officials have re-opened a beloved gallery where kids can play while learning the story of agriculture in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the recently upgraded Aunt Sugar’s Farm & Uncle Pickle’s Barn gallery takes place from 3-4:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at the museum, 315 W. Genesee Ave. The public is invited to attend.

The gallery was established when the museum opened in 2008 through gifts from Michigan Sugar Company and Hausbeck Pickles & Peppers. Both companies have again made significant financial gifts to upgrade the gallery. Support for the project also comes from DHT Group (Dave Hausbeck Trucking), the Michigan Farm Bureau, and Star of the West Milling Company. The centerpiece of the gallery upgrades is a loft constructed inside the barn where children can play and access a new spiraling slide coming out of the barn. Additionally, there is a new conveyor system and chute children may use to move foam sugarbeets and pickles from the field to the market.

“The entire upgrade is designed to help better tell the story of agriculture, specifically how crops like sugarbeets and pickles get from the farm field to your table,” said Rob Clark, Director of Communications and Community Relations at Michigan Sugar Company. “We wanted to create a space that has some layers and new spaces for kids to play and explore. Plus, a slide is just fun for kids. We’re very excited to see how they interact in this refreshed space.”

Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum officials worked with ZENTX Media Group of Freeland to complete the upgrades.

The changes to the barn come on the heels of another significant addition to the gallery – a mural painted on the wall behind the barn that helps tell the story of agriculture in Michigan and the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The mural, painted by Grand Rapids artist Michael Pfleghaar, features fields of crops typically found in Michigan, including sugarbeets, pickles, corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes, hay, pumpkins, and apples, as well as a farm with livestock and horses.

Lori Hausbeck, Executive Projects Manager at Hausbeck Pickles & Peppers, said she envisions families interacting with the mural in fun ways.

“I can see parents and their children playing little eye-spy and counting games for sure,” she said. “A parent might ask their child, ‘how many clouds do you see,’ ‘can you find the fox in the painting,’ or ‘point to the pumpkin patch.’ There are endless possibilities and what’s really great is that all of this interaction will not only be fun for kids, but it will be educational.”

Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum President Ann Doyle said she could not be happier with how the upgraded gallery has come together.

“We are so excited to cut the ribbon and re-open Aunt Sugar’s Farm and Uncle Pickle’s Barn, and we know area families are equally looking forward to exploring the new space,” she said. “We’ve had many visitors over the past month asking when the exhibit would be opened because they want to come just for that. We know it is going to be a very popular space.”

Doyle said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the significant gifts made by the contributors.

“We are grateful to Michigan Sugar Company, Hausbeck Pickles & Peppers, DHT Group, Michigan Farm Bureau, and Star of the West Milling Company for their incredible commitment to our museum and this gallery,” she said. “Together, we are Making Life Sweeter for area children and their families, while fulfilling an important mission of the museum – to combine fun with education.”