The Memorial Day weekend is always a good time for a daytrip or two, and, as usual, many events are planned to lure you away from home.
The 22nd annual Chestertown Tea Party Festival attracts people to the Eastern Shore for two days of free festivities Saturday and May 28. The festival recalls an event that happened there May 23, 1774. In response to the closing of the Port of Boston, citizens of Chestertown staged their own tea party. A group of men boarded the British ship Geddes, anchored in the Chester River, and dumped its cargo of tea overboard. Every year a re-enactment of the event is the centerpiece for the festival. This year it is scheduled at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Pride of Baltimore II will represent the ship Geddes, and after the re-enactment it will be open for tour.
Bagpipe bands, horse-drawn carriages and the 1st and 6th Maryland Regiments will take part in the Colonial parade down High Street to the waterfront at 10 a.m. Saturday. After that, streets will fill with blacksmiths, candle makers, weavers and woodworkers, who will demonstrate traditional craft skills. Food vendors will offer a variety of Eastern Shore delicacies for sale.
Country musicians, cloggers, English country dancers, Nanticoke Indian dancers, Scottish Highland pipers and dancers, ragtime band, and many others are scheduled to entertain throughout the day. Children can enjoy a Punch and Judy show, music played on Colonial instruments and stories and music by Slim Harrison.
On Sunday a living-history event, "Minuteman to Guardsman," commemorates the 50th anniversary of World War II and the tradition of citizen-soldiers from the American Revolution to the present. Activities at Wilmer Park from noon to 6 p.m. include re-enactments, vintage vehicle displays, a puppet and mime show, Eastern Shore fish fry, bluegrass music and a raft race on the river. Admission is free. For information, call (410) 778-0416.
A traditional holiday event in Virginia is the 36th annual Hunt Country Stable Tour Saturday and May 28 around Middleburg, Upperville, and the Plains. The tour showcases some of the world's most beautiful equine estates, such as Rokeby, the famous broodmare barn of Paul Mellon, whose horse won the Kentucky Derby in 1993, and the farm of Jack Kent Cooke (owner of the Washington Redskins), also known for his stable of Tennessee walking horses.
Among other sites on this 16-stop tour are the Middleburg Equine Swim Center, where horses swim and relax in two-horse Jacuzzis; the Middleburg Training Track, training site for some 200 thoroughbred racing prospects; Great Meadow, site of the Virginia Gold Cup; and Blue Ridge Farm, home of some of the finest stallions in the East.
Tour-goers will also see demonstrations of dressage, coaching and jumping exhibitions, and polo by world-class equestrians. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets and lunch are available at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville. Tour tickets cost $16 for adults; $8 for children under 12; or $32 for a car with three or more passengers. Call (703) 592-3711.
Horse show and fair
Horses will also be a big draw in Devon, Pa., where the 99th annual Devon Horse Show and Country Fair opens Friday and runs until June 3.
Here at the Devon show grounds you can see top show jumpers including many Olympic and World Championship veterans, *T along with hunters, three- and five-gaited saddle horses, roadsters and four-in-hand coaches competing for ribbons.
In addition to equestrian events, the country fair offers boutique shopping, food and a midway with rides and games. The grounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the fair opens at 10 a.m., except on Sunday, when the openings are at 11 a.m. General admission is $6 for adults; $2.50 for children. Show grounds are on Route 30 in Devon. Call (610) 688-2554 (horse show tickets) and (610) 525-2533 (country fair).
Jambalaya in Philadelphia
The 10th anniversary of the USAir Jambalaya Jam from Saturday through May 29 launches Philadelphia's summer season. Music, food and crafts from New Orleans are among the attractions on the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia's waterfront park.
Five stages provide New Orleans Dixieland, funk, Cajun and zydeco music, as well as Latin, gospel and blues, performed by the Neville Brothers, Al Hirt, Dr. John, BeauSoleil, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and others. Children can jam with musicians in free workshops.
You can sample food from New Orleans, like shrimp Creole, jambalaya and bread pudding with bourbon sauce, and there's lots of Philadelphia fare as well. You can also shop at the French Quarter to find handcrafted works by New Orleans and Philadelphia-area artists.
Festival hours are noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; noon to 9 p.m. Monday. Admission is $16 for adults; $1 for ages 2 to 12. Call (800) 668-5724.
Hundreds of free activities are scheduled next weekend at Mayfair, the five-day festival of performing and visual arts in Allentown, Pa.