OLEAN, NY – The Olean Public Library celebrated Groundhog Day a day early on Saturday with a bit of a twist:The featured animals were hedgehogs.

Mike Morton of Sun-Dance-Kids Farm in Ellington, New York, opened the children's program by talking about children’s author Jan Brett, whose work is very inspired by hedgehogs.

Morton then gave facts about hedgehogs and told the story of Groundhog Day having its origins in the early February observance of Candlemas.

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Hedgehogs were originally used in Germany to predict if better weather was coming. When European settlers came to America and could not find hedgehogs, they substituted groundhogs.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they try to find their food at night, Morton noted.

One program attendee, Engelien delien deVries, verified that fact after the program. She is a native of the Netherlands and recalled, “In winter, my family would leave milk out at night for the hedgehogs.”

The program had many families in attendance, and Morton spoke to them about Sun-Dance-Kids Farm and its programs for different seasons.They showcase turkeys in November, bunnies around Easter and animals such as deer, lambs and goats for many other occasions. Morton added he has had a lifelong interest in animals, and that was something he shared with his grandfather.

In 2019, Sun-Dance-Kids Farm gave just a little under 600 programs and events spanning Chautauqua County into the Pennsylvania cities of Erie and Bradford. This year, Morton expects to have over 600 events.

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