The winds of March herald spring and an end to the winter hibernation. It's a good time to get out your kite and let it fly at one of the kiting events in the region.
A popular one is the Kite Festival March 19 at Gunston Hall Plantation in Mason Neck, Va. The plantation was the home of Colonial patriot George Mason, whose nine children flew their kites in the same meadow that visitors use now.
Kite Day festivities are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Youngsters through grade 12 will be admitted free. "Blackbeard," an 18th-century puppet show, will be presented at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Other amusements for children include 18th-century card and board games, lawn bowling and a craft activity.
If you forget your kite, you can buy a simple one in the plantation gift shop. Adult admission is $5, and senior citizens pay $4, which includes the day's activities and a tour of the house and grounds. Rain date for the festival is March 26.
Gunston Hall is 20 miles south of Washington and can be reached by Interstate 95 or U.S. Route 1 to the Lorton exit. For information, call (703) 550-9220.
"Kites Around the World" is the theme of the Smithsonian Institution's 29th annual Kite Festival, held on Washington Monument grounds March 25.
Sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates and the National Air and Space Museum, it will have participants from the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and other countries. Activities include competition, demonstrations and displays.
Registration will take place on the west side of monument grounds from 10 a.m. to noon. Prizes will be awarded in various categories and age groups. Admission is free. Rain date is March 26.
A kite display and film will be held Saturday in the Lecture Hall of the S. Dillon Ripley Center by former presidents of the American Kitefliers Association. Tickets are free, but must be obtained in advance. Call (202) 357-3030.
Kites in Virginia
Stratford Hall Plantation in Stratford, Va., will also hold a Kite Day. The public is invited to fly kites in front of Stratford's Great House from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 26. Admission to the grounds is free, but there is a charge to tour the mansion. Call (804) 493-8038.
On March 25 you can learn to make and fly a kite from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton, Va. The fee is $10 for one adult and one child; $3 for each additional child. To register, call (703) 332-7850.
Charter Day in Pa.
Charter Day recognizes the founding of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and each year, on the second Sunday in March, state-owned museums celebrate by opening their doors to visitors free of charge.
It was in 1681 that King Charles II granted the charter for Pennsylvania to William Penn, who founded his new Colony on principles of religious tolerance. A significant example of this principle at work was Ephrata Cloister, home of a radical 18th-century religious communal society founded by Conrad Beissel. In Colonial times the cloister became an important publishing center.
The cloister is now a restored historic site operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Today, Charter Day, a full schedule of activities is planned there from noon to 5 p.m. Costumed interpreters will be at the Beissel Cabin to help visitors experience the period, while other costumed interpreters will be engaged in printing, candle dipping and other period activities at the Sister's House, the Meeting House and the Householder's Cabin. On display will be rare specimens of early cloister calligraphy, known as Frakturschriften, and the Ephrata Cloister Chorus will perform 18th-century cloister music in the Meeting House at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The cloister is at the junction of routes 272 and 322 in Ephrata. Call (717) 733-4811 or (717) 733-6600.
Landis Valley Museum, Pennsylvania's largest German museum of rural life in Lancaster, Pa., also offers free admission on Charter Day. Here visitors can tour more than 15 buildings, including farmsteads with animals, a tavern and several craft shops, and see a variety of demonstrations from pottery and cabinetmaking to tinsmithing. The 1850s Landis Valley Hotel, which is also part of the museum complex, will have food for sale.
The museum is 2.5 miles northeast of Lancaster on Route 272/Oregon Pike, a marked exit off Route 30. Call (717) 569-0401.
Other sites in the area open on Charter Day are the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, (717) 687-8628, and the Cornwall Iron Furnace in Cornwall, (717) 272-9711.
For the third year, St. Michaels Community Center will sponsor its popular Bed and Breakfast and Inn Tour March 25-26.
Nineteen inns in and around St. Michaels will be on the tour. A reception will be held at St. Michaels Harbour Inn and Marina from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The Pasadena Inn will offer refreshments all day Saturday, and tour-goers can enjoy an English tea at the Inn at Perry Cabin from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.