"Alice's Wonderland" is the theme of the 1991 Chrysanthemum Festival at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., a show that opened yesterday and continues through Dec. 1.
Lewis Carroll's classic tale is brought to life with scenes of topiary storybook characters sculpted from living plants and placed throughout the four acres of gardens. An 8-foot ivy teapot spouting steam stands at the entrance to the Topiary Garden, and visitors can look in on a maze of symmetrically clipped hedges and bushes. The stage of the Open Air Theatre is the arena for a chess game with topiary pawns, knights, bishops, rooks and a king and queen. Here, too, musical fountain displays are set off every half hour. On the way to the conservatories you'll pass a Cheshire Cat, and inside, amid the thousands of colorful mums, you'll find plants fashioned as the Duchess, two White Rabbits, fish and frog footmen, the King and Queen of Hearts and Alice stepping through the looking glass. Other topiary figures are the March Hare and Mad Hatter giving a tea party, an 18-foot backward-running clock and a caterpillar on the back of a giant mushroom puffing a bubble pipe.
Entertainment is planned throughout the festival. On weekend afternoons actors from Shoestring Productions of Brandywine Valley will perform scenes from "Alice in Wonderland," two magicians will offer their tricks and on Saturdays and Sundays children can make a craftwork to take home. On Nov. 23 and 24 visitors can join the Delaware Croquet Club in games of croquet.
There's also music -- strolling vocal quartets every Sunday through Nov. 24; a band concert on Nov. 2; the Delaware Youth Orchestra on Nov. 16; and three instrumental concerts on the final three days of the festival. On weekdays, lectures on various gardening topics are scheduled at 2 p.m., and Delaware Valley chefs will offer food demonstrations in the Ballroom Nov. 4-8 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission, including all activities, is $8 for adults, $2 for ages 6 to 14, free for children under 6. Longwood Gardens is on U.S. 1, three miles northeast of Kennett Square. For information, call (215) 388-6741.
On Dec. 4, 1619, America's first Thanksgiving was held on the shores of the James River, almost two years before the Pilgrim celebration in Massachusetts. The 33rd annual Virginia Thanksgiving Festival commemorates this occasion next Sunday on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation, site of the original event, in Charles City County, Va.
Over a dozen activities are planned between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., including an arts and crafts fair, encampments, Indian dancers, musicians and magicians. Food will also be available. Re-enactments of the original event will be presented at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. A living history group will perform historical vignettes with audience participation, and visitors can take part in the activities at six encampments set up around the grounds. They can join soldiers in a military drill or watch food being prepared over the open fire, as actors and 17th century musicians mingle with the crowd. An interfaith prayer service, a song and dance performance by the New Virginians and an Army Band performance are other scheduled events.
Tours of historic Berkeley manor house are included in the admission fee of $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $3 for children. Berkeley is on Route 5 in Charles City County between Richmond and Williamsburg, Va. For information, call (804) 272-3226 or (804) 320-0320.
Visitors from Virginia and its neighboring states return to Urbanna, Va. the first weekend in November for the state's official oyster festival.
Two tall ships along with oyster boats and various other water craft will be docked along Urbanna's waterfront. The tall ships will be open for tours both days. Throughout town there'll be arts and crafts, crafts demonstrations, food concessions, musical entertainment and a children's carnival. Live bands will perform Friday evening outside the firehouse following the fireman's parade at 7 p.m. On Saturday an oyster shucking contest will take place at 11 a.m. You'll find oysters served in every imaginable way plus other kinds of seafood as well as non-seafood fare.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Call (804) 758-5540.
Oyster Day, an annual celebration that pays tribute to the Chesapeake Bay Oyster industry, will be held Saturday at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
The museum plans a fun-filled day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be an oyster hatchery exhibit, hands-on demonstrations of oyster tonging and nippering, an oyster shucking demonstration, lecture and a film. Another event is the annual oyster shell skipping contest.
For entertainment, folk singer Mack Bailey will perform at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Oysters, prepared in a variety of ways, will be sold along with other foods.