Highlands festival one of Old Dominion's oldest


July 25, 1993|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

The town of Abingdon in the Virginia Highlands is the home of the Barter Theatre, one of the oldest theaters in the United States, and the home of the Virginia Highlands Festival. For 16 days in mid-summer, visitors come from all over the country and even from abroad to enjoy one of the state's oldest and largest festivals.

This year's event opens Saturday and runs through Aug. 15 with enough activities to satisfy the most demanding festival-goer. One popular event is the antiques market, which will be housed in three tents on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College. More than 100 dealers from several states will offer fine furniture, porcelain, china, silver, vintage clothing and many other items. The market is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A double-decker bus will shuttle visitors between the college and festival grounds in the downtown area. The annual Arts and Crafts Show takes place at Barter Green on Main Street and on the lawn of the Martha Washington Inn. Exhibitors come from all over the southeast to offer a range of items and demonstrations. The show is held daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Another popular event is the Big Feast, a giant picnic with lots of food, hot air balloons and live country music. The feast benefits ,, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Washington County. A Creative Writing Day, held on the first Monday of the festival, offers traditional workshops in poetry and fiction. There are historic walking tours, regional history presentations, a tour of private kitchens, "A Taste of Main Street," and a Civil War Living History Weekend featuring Confederate and Union camps, cavalry drills, artillery firings, skirmishes, period fashions, lectures and other presentations.

New this year is "Mountain Music Days," two days of performances and demonstrations of traditional instruments by area musicians, and a gospel music show. Another addition is the Christmas Decorating Open House, in which three designers transform an 18th-century house with traditional period decorations.

The festival opens with an evening of song and spirits, sponsored by the Martha Washington Inn. Music continues to be a big part of the festival program, and much of it focuses on the traditional musical heritage of the area with workshops, lectures and concerts.

You can also hear classical, bluegrass, rock and roll and other styles and find many other kinds of entertainment, from comedy, theater, dance, storytelling and children's activities, to carriage rides, antique cars and a celebrity auction.

Admission is charged for some events. For a schedule, call (703) 628-8141.

Folk Heroes play

Furnace Town, the historic site near Snow Hill, continues its concert series today with a performance by the Folk Heroes. The one-hour concert begins at 3 p.m. at the Furnace Town Pavilion. The Folk Heroes have been performing acoustic American and Irish folk music in the Salisbury area since 1991.

Picnic tables provide seating, though visitors may want to take chairs or blankets. The Nassawango Ruritan Club will sell homemade ice cream before and during the concert.

Concert-goers will be able to enjoy self-guided tours through the site, a reconstructed 19th-century industrial town, including the newly completed Charging Ramp to the top of the Nassawango Iron Furnace.

The concert is included in admission to Furnace Town: $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. To reach Furnace Town from Baltimore, take U.S. 50 to Salisbury, take Route 12 south 16 miles to Old Furnace Road. Furnace Town is one mile west on Old Furnace Road. For more information, call (410) 632-2032.

Rolling on the river

"Scenic River Days," the top summer event in Reading, Pa., features four days of family entertainment from Thursday through next Sunday at Riverfront Park on the Schuylkill River.

Now in its seventh year, the festival offers four stages of continuous entertainment, a dance tent and a separate children's stage and activity area with performances by jugglers, puppeteers, clowns, singers and the Yiengst Magic Circus. Additional attractions include a juried art show, crafts demonstrations by members of local guilds, canoeing and kayaking events and a variety of food.

Scheduled to appear this year as headline acts are Delbert McClinton with guest comedian Pat Godwin on Thursday; country star Ricky Skaggs Friday; and an oldies show, featuring the Platters, Freddie Parris and the Five Satins, Skylines, Chiffons and Pretenders on Saturday. Ticket prices for these performances range from $10 to $15. All other festival activities are free.

Hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call (215) 375-6508.

In the corn

Union Mills Homestead Foundation and the Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club will co-sponsor the annual Old-Fashioned Corn Roast Festival Aug. 7, rain or shine, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Homestead grounds near Westminster.

The corn will be roasted in its husks on iron stoves just as it was in the early 1800s. Then, corn festivals and watermelon frolics were a tradition in the Shriver family to celebrate good harvests. Built in 1797, the Homestead was home to the Shriver family for six generations. Guided tours of the house and restored grist mill will be available for a small fee. In addition to all the corn you can eat, the menu includes fried chicken, tomatoes, applesauce, a roll and beverage. The cost is $8.50 for adults; $4 for children under 12. Proceeds will support restoration and maintenance of the historic buildings and the Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club Park.

The Homestead is at 3311 Littlestown Pike, seven miles north of Westminster on state Route 97. Call (410) 848-2288.

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