Submitted by Renée Brown
Nestled between the beautiful countrysides that grace Skaneateles and Otisco lakes rests a fifty acre parcel of land known as Willowdale Bend. Welcomed by the signature sunflower silo, visitors are in for a delightful treat as what initially appears as a charming country store quickly unfolds into a multifaceted, wide-ranging experience.
Willowdale Bend officially opened in August of 2019 but owners Joyce and Rick Frost have been working for a while to transition, what was once their vision, into a mission of love for their community. The Frost’s purchased the property in 2005 from the Leader Family, generational farmers that had worked the land since the late 1800’s. Unsure of what the outcome of their purchase would actually become, Joyce began looking for signs as a direction to begin. One such sign was cyclists stopping to ask them for a drink as they worked in the field, while another was Joyce and Rick’s aspiration to care for animals in need of a good home. Joyce also began rethinking her long-time passion for antiques, art and surrounding herself with things that inspire and encourage. Like a puzzle, the visionary pieces began fitting into place and the result has been the creation of a family friendly homestead where people can explore the outdoors while visiting the farm animals, meander through a large Amish built barn chocked full of collectables and knickknacks, and experience the country store (a refurnished 1800's farmhouse) that is full of antiques, treasures and locally supported products. One can also enjoy delicious comfort food and a variety of beverages (non-alcoholic & spirited), while relaxing in one of several comfortably quaint dining areas.
Willowdale Bend gets its name, in part, by its location. Situated to the side of an almost 90' curve on Willowdale Road, the farmhouse, or country store, and the parking area in front of it, serves as the core of the complex. Once parked, the question becomes which direction to go in first. Outside there is a fabulous pond, a large gully and open space to take in all that nature has to offer. There are kunekune pigs, a bull, cows, geese, ducks, rabbits, a peacock, and many other animals that have been rescued from various circumstances and now call the Frost Farm home. With the animals has evolved another plan on Rick and Joyce’s to do list which involves the creation of educational programs where children can experience agricultural interactivity right on-site. Though open year-round, seasonal weather does dictate exactly how much outdoor exploration is available. When the weather is warmer, there is outdoor seating in a variety of locations on the premises to take in the scenery.
Adjacent to the pond is the wonderful sunflower silo. Initially unsure of what to do with the tower, the decision was made to keep it and in August of 2018 Joyce recruited her sister-in-law Teri Gilbert-Lathrop, an artist, to paint their now emblematic logo. With the assistance of Teri’s husband (Joyce’s brother Dan) a lift was brought in and the gateway to Willowdale Bend was created. Often referred to as the ‘happy’ flower, the sunflower design is symbolic of all that encompasses Joyce and Rick’s mission: loyalty, longevity, joy, positivity, strength and perseverance. A spiritual nod to the blossoms’ resemblance to the sun, the majestic silo sunflower shines daily, regardless of the weather, a celestial wink that will bring a smile to anyone’s face. Sunflowers are also planted on the property yearly to attract bees. Another homage to the Frost’s love of nature.
The main building, the country store, is a place where visitors can sip, shop, eat, and relax. Though a store by design, the Frosts have created an atmosphere of community where everyone is made to feel welcome the moment they arrive. Seasonally, the front lawn is covered with adornments and figurines of all shapes and sizes for purchase. When entering the store, you are greeted by Joyce, Betty or Holly. A warm sense of kinship and congeniality generates an unspoken appreciation of your presence. Enjoy a bite to eat before or after shopping with comfort food that includes a variety of soups, chilis, mac & cheese, and scalloped potatoes. Daily menus are posted on their Facebook page @willowdalebend. Have a glass of wine, craft beer or non-alcoholic drink with your meal or sip and shop! The Frosts support locally made items and among the antiques and collectibles for sale, in the two- story house, you will find a selection of knitted scarves, hats, sweaters and exquisitely created quilts, baked goods, honey, jewelry, soaps and lotions. Cheeses from the north country and Amish goods from Sauders are for sale as well. The country store is also available to reserve for small parties, craft groups or general get-togethers. Community and camaraderie are at the center of the Frost’s mission.
As winter rolls out and spring is on the horizon Willowdale Bend will again support additional local vendors with an outdoor Farmer’s Market and the Amish Barn will be a bit warmer for browsing as you seek that special treasure. Plans are underway for a walking trail throughout the property and live music will be a part of the summer festivities. As the Finger Lakes area embrace their various wine trails, Rick and Joyce envision a similar type of trail only with stops including other small businesses in the area. Community and a continuation of the Frost’s mission.
Rick and Joyce Frost
Willowdale Bend Antiques, Art & Crafts
2080 Willowdale Road
Skaneateles, NY 13152
Open Friday10 - 7 pm
Weekends 10 -5pm