Adults enjoy visiting the vendors and shopping at Centreville Day. And children enjoy the many activities and rides that can be found in the marketplace, including trick or treating on the Trick or Treat Trail. Far fewer people discover the more hidden treats of the historical activities and sites that are open and available on Centreville Day.
This year new historical activities at Centreville Day include the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Mini History Train, an 18th century tightrope walker, a sign dedication at 2 p.m., an opportunity to sign your own copy of the Declaration of Independence with a quill pen dipped in ink made from walnuts, and an authors’ forum. Returning activities include fencing lessons and cannon demonstrations from the Swordmasters of the 18th century (yes, the peg leg is real), dipping your own candles and churning butter, period games tours of historic buildings, and, for some holiday spirit: ghost tours.
The Mini History train will provide tours of the Centreville Historic District on a trackless train. Learn about Centreville’s own special claim to railroading history. Tickets for the train will be on sale at the Old Stone Church on Braddock Road. A visit there can also include a tasty treat from their bake sale or enjoy a simple plowman’s lunch. Directly across Braddock Road from the church is the Stuart-Mosby Cavalry Museum. This tiny museum has many big stories to tell and this year it will feature an authors’ forum.
On the lawn of Mount Gilead, Centreville Day is very proud to announce the engagement of Signora Bella, the Great Italian Equilibrist. Signora Bella (aka Jody Ellis) has performed previously at Mount Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg and the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter Ring Sidewalk Circus. A graduate of the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theater, Ellis portrays Signora Bella as an itinerant performers and recent immigrant to the U.S. in the 18th century, who travels the young republic, “trumpeting her talent and beauty for all who were fortunate enough to be graced with her charm.” Among her many talents are extraordinary feats upon the slack wire.
Be sure to stop in and visit a bit of genuine 18th century history, the Mount Gilead house itself. Then travel nearly 200 years by stopping at the Spindle Sears House on Mt. Gilead Road. Built in 1934 the house is a small time capsule, preserving a virtually unchanged Sears’s catalogue house. Inside you’ll meet docent Debbie Robison and her collection of modern reproductions of Civil War era stereoscopic slides.
Last, but not least, stop by for the dedication of the Newgate Tavern interpretative signs at 2 p.m. on Braddock Road near the intersection with Mt. Gilead Road. These signs are on private land as a result of an agreement between the Park Authority and the land owner. But they represent the first of a series of signs the Fairfax County Park Authority will place in the Historic Centreville Park. Located within the discovered foundations of the old tavern, the Newgate signs explain some of its compelling history and archeological findings. Speakers include Supervisor Michael Frey, sign author and History Commissioner Debbie Robison, and Historic Centreville Society President Paul Hancq.