Time travel: Jeffersonian Festival recreates history
Those who venture downtown this weekend may feel as if they’ve been caught in a time warp. Governor Thomas Jefferson has proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving in this year 1781, and asks for citizens to gather and give thanks to God for His blessings on the army and on the harvest. The seventh annual Thanksgiving Festival will be celebrated in historic downtown Charlottesville November 22-24.
More than 60 events and activities at various locations in the downtown area will transport visitors back to the 18th century where they can experience the flavor of our fair city during the Revolutionary War. Modern folks can mingle with nearly 150 costumed historic figures, including Thomas and Martha Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Daniel and Rebecca Boone, George Gilmer, and other statesmen, soldiers, craftspeople, clergymen, and citizens of the time.
American Revolutionary soldiers will set up camp in Jackson Park, while the British and Hessians, with their artillery and cavalry, will encamp at Lee Park. Throughout the weekend, visitors can gather around the tents and campfires as the soldiers, their wives, and other camp followers tell of their lives during the War for Independence. Young recruits can also join the “Little Militia” and participate in military drills and hear war stories from General George Washington, James Monroe, George Rogers Clark, Jack Jouett, and African-American soldier Shadrack Battle.
Citizens can join the debate with Governor Jefferson, James Madison, and other statesmen as the displaced Virginia General Assembly meets in emergency session. Jefferson and Washington will be in attendance at the Court House as well during a “shocking” sermon delivered by the Reverend Charles Clay.
Tavern-keeper William Michie will lead period folk music and dancing. Lucy Lewis, mother of young Meriwether, will teach colonial children’s games. Blacksmiths, candlemakers, woodworkers, dressmakers, basketweavers, and others will demonstrate their crafts and sell their goods in the market on the Mall. American troops will escort new British and Hessian prisoners of war along Three-Notch’d Road (the Downtown Mall) with a fife and drum corps presentation and a demonstration of the soldiers’ weapons to be reviewed by General Washington.
Guests are invited to dress in long skirts, knee pants, and tri-cornered hats to really get into the spirit of the times. Even if you choose not to go in costume, this weekend will truly bring history to life.
A schedule of events for Governor Jefferson’s Thanksgiving Festival can be found at jeffersonthanksgiving.org and at information tables at various locations throughout the festival including Lee and Jackson Parks, Court Square, and on the Downtown Mall. For more information, call 249-4032.