Memorial Day weekend launches the summer season with a round of activities throughout the region. If you're looking for an inexpensive getaway, you can daytrip your way through the weekend at relatively little cost. There's the Chestertown Tea Party for those who enjoy events with Colonial flair, a huge arts festival in Allentown, Pa., a stable tour in Virginia Hunt Country, a garden tour in Frederick, a strawberry festival in Southern Maryland and a horse show in Devon, Pa.
A tradition in Chestertown for 21 years, the Tea Party Festival actually starts Friday evening with a cocktail reception and continues through Sunday, but the big day is Saturday. It begins with a Colonial parade of horse-drawn carriages, bagpipers, the 1st Maryland Regiment and 1st Virginia Regiment at 10 a.m. Colonial crafts people will set up shop along the waterfront, and food booths will be filled with Eastern Shore delicacies.
Entertainment includes bagpipe bands and a brass quintet, Indian dancers, 18th-century country dancers, cloggers, square dancers and a militia demonstration. For children there will be music and stories, a Punch-and-Judy show, pony rides and face painting.
Highlight of the day is the Tea Party Re-enactment at 2 p.m. The event commemorates an event that took place in Chestertown May 23, 1774. Following the example of the Boston Tea Party to protest the British tax on tea, citizens of Chestertown staged their own tea party. They boarded the British ship Geddes and dumped its cargo of tea into the Chester River. For information, call (410) 778-0416 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Arts in Allentown
Mayfair is a five-day festival focused on the arts in Allentown, Pa. Scheduled Thursday through May 30 at Cedar Beach Park, it offers such free events and activities as a jazz concert by saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, dancing to the reggae beat of the Meditations from Jamaica, a performance by the Fiddle Puppet Dancers and a Street Theatre Spectacle, with giant puppets, music and dance, that moves from site to site throughout the park.
Four outdoor stages provide arenas for clowns, jugglers and magicians, dance ensembles and drama. An artists market will have crafts and fine arts for sale; there will also be juried art and photography exhibits, a sculpture exhibit, a restaurant tent and a children's area with its own stage and hands-on art projects. Hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday to Monday. The park is at 2020 Hamilton St. Call (215) 437-6900.
Tour of the stables
Another traditional Memorial Day weekend event is the 35th annual Hunt Country Stable Tour through exclusive horse farms around Upperville and Middleburg, Va., Saturday and next Sunday. The 15-stop tour includes the famous Paul Mellon broodmare barn, "Rokeby," the stable of Jack Kent Cooke (owner of the Washington Redskins) and the Middleburg Equine Swim Center. Participants will see exhibitions of dressage by Spanish Andalusians, a polo match, show jumping by world-class equestrians and Virginia's oldest winery.
The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $18 and are good for both days; half price for children under 12; $5 for single stops. Tickets can be purchased at Trinity Episcopal Church on U.S. 50 in Upperville, where a catered luncheon is available for $8. Call (703) 592-3711.
Gardens in Frederick
Travel to Frederick for the "Beyond the Garden Gates" tour Saturday and next Sunday. This will be a self-guided tour of six gardens in the downtown area from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Hospitality centers are located at Schifferstadt Architectural Museum and the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center. Schifferstadt's 18th-century garden will be open, and there will be a lecture on the history of the museum, which is the oldest building in Frederick, and its garden. The Delaplaine Center will have an exhibit by the Frederick County Art Association, and you can meet local artist William Cochran. Plants will be for sale at Schifferstadt.
Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the Frederick Visitor Center, 19 E. Church St. Call (301) 663-8687.
Horse show in Devon, Pa.
The 98th annual Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, one of the nation's largest outdoor horse shows, opens Friday for a nine-day run through June 4 at the Show Grounds on U.S. 30 in Devon, Pa.
Top horses and riders will compete for more than $250,000 in prize money. Horse-show events range from pony classes to grand-prix events in which contestants are Olympic veterans. Another top attraction is "Superdogs," with canine relay races and high-jumping competitions. The country fair offers boutique shopping, food, games and rides for children of all ages.
Show hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. Gate admission is $6 for adults; $2.50 for children under 12. Call (215) 688-2554 Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
New Orleans to the north