Fall for History

Fall for History

Mount Vernon offers free harvest festival.

Celebrate both history and the harvest at George Washington's Gristmill this fall. The Gristmill and newly restored distillery will be the site of this year's Mount Vernon "Fall Harvest Family Days" on Oct. 21 and 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Games, wagon rides, story telling, flax to linen demonstrations and outdoor cooking demonstrations as well as colonial music, crafts and harvest activities are all part of this annual autumn event.

By relocating this tribute to America's agricultural past to The Gristmill, the entire family can enjoy a full day of 18th century life entirely free, that also includes tours of the water-powered mill itself. Visitors can make corn husk dolls and assist the candle maker in creating various colored tapers.

Located just three miles from Mount Vernon Estate on Route 235, Mount Vernon Highway, the Gristmill played an important role in George Washington's vision for America's future as "granary to the world." The newly reconstructed distillery adjacent to the mill is a testament to his entrepreneurship.

At the Gristmill, costumed millers share stories of the history of the mill and the people who lived and worked there during Washington's time. The mill is also noted for its innovative process which was designed and patented by Oliver Evans of Delaware.

"Evans' designs transformed a traditional mill into an automated machine, with power from the water wheel used to transport grain and meal throughout the building by means of a system of drive elevators and chutes," according the mill's history. This not only vastly increased the efficiency of the mill but also saved those working there the backbreaking chore of carrying the grain bales to the third floor.

"Mount Vernon's fall festival is fun and educational. Washington's Gristmill provides a lively glimpse of Early-American life," said Stephanie Brown, associate director, Mount Vernon Public Affairs.

Those wishing to expand their fall harvest experience can also visit the Pioneer Farm which is included in admission to Mount Vernon Estate. There they can enjoy hayrides, half-price sightseeing cruises, and take a self guided tour of the farm.

There is also the opportunity to visit the entire Estate and Mansion.

Estate admission fees are: Adults $13; Senior citizens $12; children, 6-11 $6; children under five, free. The Estate is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information is available at 703-780-2000; 703-799-8697 (TDD); or on the internet at www.mountvernon.org.