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Family-Friendly Fairfax History Day Set for Saturday, 4/27

The Fun-Filled Day of Living History Includes Lively Music, Dance, Blacksmithing—Plus Hayrides, 19th-Century Games and a Brewmaster

Post Date:04/04/2019

Kids might come for the hay rides, pony rides and 175-bale-of-hay pyramid, but everyone will stay for the range of living history presentations during Fairfax History Day, Saturday, April 27, at Historic Blenheim.

This second annual event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., focuses on the entire 19th century, from the construction of the new county courthouse in 1800 through the growth of a town and its people.

With a daylong lineup of living history interpreters, demonstrations and speakers, attendees will learn about the vibrant life of a crossroads community along the Little River Turnpike — chartered in 1805 as Providence and known during the Civil War as Fairfax Court House. It will be a day for visitors to learn about the city’s past in a setting where rich history actually occurred.

“We created a program with broad appeal not only for those interested in Fairfax’s history, but also for those who may have never visited the Historic Blenheim site before,” said Chris Martin, director of the Office of Historic Resources. “Blenheim, of course, is nationally famous for containing well preserved and voluminous Civil War soldier signatures and writings inside the historic house, and families can take graffiti tours throughout the day.”

Living History: Visitors can experience living history through the diverse lenses of a farmer, attorney, tavern keeper, stagecoach operator, school marm, tradesman and soldier, while also learning about slave life and African-American music and foodways.  

Fascinating Demos: Demonstrations of everyday domestic life include a brewmaster, laundress, seamstress, weaving and spinning, needlework, and display of 19th-century clothing styles. Participants returning from last year’s event include Dean Howarth portraying an early 19th-century naturalist, Lauren Muney as a silhouettist and phrenologist, and Bob Szabo’s early photography display. Visitors can have their silhouette drawn or purchase historically accurate clothing.

 The event is also affordable family fun: Admission for adults is only $5; youth 3-12, $3; and kids 2 and under, free.


Highlights of Fairfax History Day include:

  • Hayrides and pony rides
  • A kids’ hay pyramid (175 bales of hay — perfect for climbing!)
  • Living history demonstrations typical of town residents, domestic arts and fashions
  • Ferdinand McAdoo, head brewmaster at Onery Beer Company in Fairfax, will talk about the ingredients and process of 19th-century brewing
  • 19th-century games; cursive writing activity
  • A variety of period dance and music, including Calvin Earl demonstrating “The History of Spirituals;” the Roustabout String Band playing traditional 19th-century tunes; and the George Mason University’s 8th Green Machine Division Band, a brass band that plays music commonplace in cities and towns in the mid- to late 1800s. The Arlington Victorian Dance Society returns with popular mid-19th-century dances.
  • Authors tent
  • Civil War “boot camp” (camp drills with wooden rifles for children)
  • Historic artifact displays, including records from collections from the Fairfax County Courthouse, the Virginia Room, and George Mason University — plus the city’s road history including the popular corduroy log road exhibit


“Our goal with this event is to teach about our local history in an engaging, hands-on way in a beautiful setting,” says Martin.  “Of course, one can never overlook the appeal of great food. We’ll have food vendors including Colonial Kettle Corn — making the product on-site in a large metal kettle.”

Proceeds benefit the restoration of the Historic Blenheim house. Free parking and full accessibility shuttle-bus service are provided at Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run. (Please note: Parking is not available at the event site.)

This event is produced by the City of Fairfax Office of Historic Resources and Historic Fairfax City, Inc.

For more information — including directions and parking — click here, or call 703-591-0560.  

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