Children might come for the dairy cow-milking demonstrations and pony rides, but they — and adults — will stay for the range of living history during Fairfax History Day, Saturday, April 28, at Historic Blenheim.
The debut of this ambitious event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., focuses on a period that covers the 1800 opening of the new County courthouse and how it impacted the creation and growth of the town throughout the 19th century. It will be a day for visitors to learn about the city’s dynamic past in a setting where rich history actually occurred.
And those cows? They’re not simply a lure for the little ones. Fairfax was a dominant dairy-producing region in the Commonwealth of Virginia throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“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 the best preserved and most voluminous Civil War soldier signatures and writings inside the home, and families can take graffiti tours throughout the day.”
With a daylong lineup of living history interpreters, demonstrations and speakers, attendees will learn about the vibrant life of a community along the Little River Turnpike — chartered in 1805 as Providence and known during the Civil War as Fairfax Court House.
Visitors can take in living history through the diverse lenses of farmers, slave life and foodways, soldiers, tradesmen and tavern keepers. They’ll also learn how the War of 1812 and Civil War impacted Fairfax.
Admission for adults is $5; youth 3-12, $3; and kids 2 and under, free.
Highlights of Fairfax History Day include:
- Hayrides and pony rides
- Cow-milking and calf-petting
- A kids’ hay pyramid (perfect for climbing!)
- Demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills, including blacksmithing
- 19th-century children’s games
- A variety of period dance and music groups, including the Jubilee Voices, a folk song and spiritual ensemble committed to preserving gorgeous sounds from African American history and traditions; and the Roustabout String Band, which plays 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.
- Authors tent and speakers on a variety of historical topics
- Civil War “boot camp” (camp drills with wooden rifles for children)
- Historic artifact displays, including courthouse records and old photographs—plus the City’s road history and construction, including Blenheim’s popular corduroy log road exhibit
Proceeds benefit the restoration of the Historic Blenheim Estate. Free parking and full accessibility shuttle-bus service are provided at Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run. (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 — visit www.fairfaxva.gov or call 703-591-0560.