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Great Day for Great Falls

Annual community celebration features music, food, art.

It was a great day to spend some time outside people-watching, eating snacks, listening to music and taking care of a little painting.

“I decided that rather than just come here and try to sell some of my pieces, I’d do some painting too,” said Lisa DeBoer-Wilcox, a member of Great Falls Studios. She had a handful of her paintings with her in the Great Falls Studios tent during Great Falls Day, held Saturday at the Grange Park on Georgetown Pike.

“This is so much fun,” she said, sitting on her chair working on a rendition of an old barn situated on the property of Jack and Winnie Foster, courtesy of a photograph. “This is so Great Falls.”

The annual celebration featured a re-enactment of what school was like during the turn of the last century, performed by Girl Scouts from throughout Fairfax County, under the guidance of Holly Lynne McKinley.

McKinley, who began the tradition seven years ago as part of her Gold Award project for Girl Scouts, said she never dreamed her project would last after she left the organization.

“It’s amazing,” she said. The Gold Award is the Girl Scout equivalent to the rank of Eagle Scout, said McKinley. About 20 girls throughout the day were signed up to participate in the re-enactment in the Old Schoolhouse building.

“I love seeing the sense of community that has grown up around doing this and through Great Falls Day,” she said, before ringing a single copper bell to start up her lesson with the girls after a recess of jumping rope and shooting marbles.

Near the early model John Deere tractor, the milking station was popular during the first half of the day.

“We’ve had some really good milkers here today,” said Lucy Hanes Messemer, a member of the Great Falls Historical Society who had supervised teaching children of all ages how to milk a cow by squeezing on rubber udders attached to a cardboard cow in the hopes of squirting “milk” into a metal bucket.

“The bigger kids usually catch on to how it’s done faster,” she said. “It’s hard for the little ones to get the right grip and strength to get the milk out.”

In order to help the children realize the magnitude of work milking cows used to require, she asked them how long they thought it would take to fill up a glass of milk in the days when cows were milked by hand.

“That gets them to thinking about how much of a chore it was,” Messemer said.

Also at Great Falls Day were a native plant sale sponsored by Friends of Riverbend Park, music from local bands and a daylight astronomy presentation, featuring views of solar fares and sunspots, from members of the Annalemma Society, which meets every Friday night at Turner Farm starting at dusk.