In 1792 the King's Highway was a dirt road that connected the city of Philadelphia to the frontier town of Lancaster, Pa. To accommodate increased traffic after the Revolution, construction of a hard-surfaced road was authorized. It was the first of its kind in the nation.
A year-long series of events is planned to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Philadelphia-to-Lancaster Turnpike during 1992. It later became known as U.S. Route 30, parts of which are now part of the interstate turnpike. The official kick-off ceremony is scheduled Friday at 11 a.m. in front of the Heritage Center in Lancaster. An authentic Conestoga wagon, symbol of the turnpike, will be on display. The weekend will be filled with activities, including a preview of the new exhibit "From London to Lancaster," frontier crafts demonstrations at the Heritage Center, a celebration with food and traditional crafts demonstrations at Central Market, a tour of the market square, walking tours of downtown Lancaster, an open house and birthday festivities at King's Cottage (a turnpike inn), a lecture on Conestoga wagons and a horse-drawn wagon trip.
A brochure lists events throughout the year, such as guided bicycle tours of the original turnpike area, Conestoga wagon theme weekends at a bed and breakfast inn, and demonstrations and events at area museums. Call (800) 735-2629.
Race weekend in Richmond
Strawberry Hill Race Weekend is the biggest social event of spring in Richmond. The races on Saturday highlight a weekend of equine and social activities that gets underway on Friday afternoon with a parade of horse-drawn carriages. The first stop is Maymont Park's Italian Garden at 3:15 p.m. The carriages then proceed to the Columbus Statue in Byrd Park at 4:15 p.m. That evening the annual pre-race dinner dance, the Bottomley Bal du Barn, will be held at the Old Dominion Building at the state fairgrounds. Entertainment includes track-side refreshments and a jousting exhibition by the National Jousting Association, followed by dinner and dancing. Reservations are required. Call (804) 228-3246.
Gates open at the fairgrounds on Saturday at 9 a.m. A carriage drive through Ginter Park to the races begins at the Jefferson Hotel. Pre-race activities at the fairground include the parade of carriages led by jousters from the National Jousting Association and the tailgate picnic contest. Post time for the first of eight races is 1 p.m. Admission is $20 at the gate, $12 before April 7. Proceeds will benefit Historic Richmond Foundation's preservation and revitalization efforts.
On Sunday there will be carriage drives at Tuckahoe Plantation, where Thomas Jefferson lived as a child. Tours will be offered between 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. For information on weekend events, call (804) 643-7407 or for race tickets, (804) 228-3200.
Pear Blossom Festival
Record crowds are expected in Fredericksburg, Va., for the annual Pear Blossom Festival next weekend. This year's festival, which has expanded from one to three days, offers a variety of fun and entertainment, special events, crafts, children's activities and gourmet food, including a newly created concoction called "pear blossom punch."
On Saturday, celebrity chefs will prepare food specialties for lunch and dinner at $2 per serving. Children can enjoy storytellers, pony rides, clowns, games, and hands-on arts and crafts projects. There will also be a number of sporting events, such as the basketball game between the Redskin football team and the Fredericksburg All-Stars on Friday evening; a Rappahannock River Run and Walk on Saturday, and bicycle races at Kenmore Plantation on Sunday.
Also a part of the weekend events is the Multicultural Fair at Mary Washington College Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fair features international entertainment, crafts and food. Among the entertainers are representatives of many cultures, such as the Odadaa Dance Company from Ghana, calypso dancers, Irish dancers, a Latvian trio and the Punjab Lok Rangmarch from Asia.
Saturday evening the "off-Broadway" production of "A Fresh of Breath Air" with Dale Stein will be held in the Walker Grant Middle School. The production will be staged in a cafe setting, where fancy desserts and pear blossom punch will be served before and after the show. On Sunday Washington Avenue will be closed to traffic and taken over by artisans and craftspeople, food vendors, wandering musicians and antique cars. Free transportation will be provided Saturday and Sunday to all festival events. Most are free. For information, call (703) 373-2311.
Feast of the Ramson
Richwood, W. Va., known as the Ramp Capital of the World, will hold its traditional Feast of the Ramson Saturday at Richwood High School.
The ramp is a wild leek that grows in the Monongahela National Forest that surrounds Richwood.Some say it tastes like sweet green onions, while others argue that the ramp has a taste all its own.