Maryland Days Weekend, Saturday and next Sunday, celebrates the state's 357th birthday in historic St. Mary's City, Maryland's living history museum and the site of its original settlement and capital. This is the only event of the year at St. Mary's City that is open to the public free of charge.
Pageantry, crafts, music, seafood and family activities are planned both days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. An official ceremony will take place Sunday at 1:30 p.m., featuring a Ceremony of Flags with participation by schoolchildren from Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City and a performance by the Navy Band's Sea Chanters.
Visitors can experience the days of the early settlement as they stop at a 17th century military encampment and watch tactical drills by the St. Maries Citty Militia; take a free horse-drawn wagon ride to the site of the Great Brick Chapel, where archaeologists will talk about recent discoveries at this site; or visit the Maryland Dove, the re-creation of the 17th century pinnace. There will also be 1 1/2 -hour cruises on the St. Mary's River aboard the historic iron cargo schooner Pioneer, built in 1885. This year's visiting vessel, the Pioneer comes from the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City. Cruise tickets cost $8 for adults, $6 for children, senior citizens and students.
At the St. Mary's County exhibit there will be demonstrations of tobacco stripping and how to stuff a Maryland ham. Other attraction are a petting zoo, crafts for sale and food, including barbecued pork, chowder, seafood, funnel cakes and other fare.
Maryland Days coincides with the season opening of historic St. Mary' City. Situated on 800 acres of parkland, the museum has several major exhibit areas. The Brentland Farm Visitor Center has visitor orientation exhibits, an archaeology exhibit hall and gift shop. The Governor's Field includes the reconstructed State House of 1676; Farthing's Ordinary, a re-created 17th century inn; the Maryland Dove, a reproduction of the ship that brought the first settlers to Maryland; the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, a working farm of the 1660's, and several archaeological sites. The Chancellor's Point Natural History Area the site of the Chesapeake Indian Lifeways Center.
Beginning next weekend, exhibits will be open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through November. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens, $2 for ages 6 to 12, free for those under 6.
Here are some events on the 1991 calendar: Militia Days, musters by the St. Maries Citty Militia at the Old Capital and demonstrations of various period skills, June 15 and 16; Tidewater Archaeology Weekend, hands-on activities at St. Maries Chapel archaelogical site, Aug. 3 and 4; Maritime Heritage Festival, maritime crafts and music centered around the Maryland Dove and other traditional work and pleasure boats, Sept. 21 and 22; Indian Culture Day, focusing on the lifestyles of Maryland's earliest inhabitants, Oct. 6; Harvest Home, preparations for Thanksgiving at Spray Tobacco Plantation, Oct. Grand Militia Muster, at which 17th century re-enactment units join the St. Maries Citty Militia in a weekend of pageantry and contests of skill, Oct. 19 and 20; Christmas in Old St. Mary's City, decorations and concert at the Old State House, Dec. 4; and Christmas Madrigal Evenings in the Old State House with feasting, music and entertainment, Dec. 6-8 and 13-15.
St. Mary's City is on Route 5, six miles below Lexington Park in Southern Maryland. For information, call (301) 862-0990.
Another Maryland Day Celebration will be held on March 25 at St. Clement's Island, landing site of Maryland's first settlers. Ceremonies will take place at the Potomac River Museum at Colton's Point from noon to 2 p.m. Activities will include a wreath-laying ceremony, flag raising and speeches by dignitaries, followed by refreshments. There will also be a wood carving demonstration by T. V. Long, who is donating his carving of a great blue heron to the museum, and a dedication of the "little red schoolhouse," which is being moved to museum property. Admission is free. For information, call (301) 769-2222.
Alexandria, Va. will commemorate the bicentenary of the Distric Columbia by re-creating events associated with the setting the boundaries of the nation's capital 200 years ago.