YORKTOWN, Va., September 1, 2011 —When justices of the peace held court in the 18th century, outside of legal proceedings it was sure to be a time of fun among the townspeople. Music, magic, juggling and puppet shows, period games and trade activities highlight “Court Day,” September 17, at the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Court Day will offer a glimpse of recreation, entertainment and trade activities that took place when court was in session during the 18th century. Demonstrations will range from artillery to spinning wool and include period games such as whirligigs, trap ball, hoops, ninepins, Graces and cricket.=
American cricket player and historian Tom Melville will show visitors how to play the centuries-old game throughout the day in the orchard of the museum’s re-created 1780s farm. At 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:15 p.m., visitors are encouraged to pick up a curved cricket bat and ball and join in an informal game.
The farm also will provide a setting for 18th-century entertainment – music, juggling and magic, and a puppet show depicting General Washington’s 1781 victory over Lord Cornwallis during the Siege of Yorktown. Shows will begin at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. At 12:15, 1:30 and 4:15 p.m., fiddler David Gardner will perform popular music of the time.
In the farm and along the museum’s timeline, visitors can see sheep and enjoy ongoing spinning and cloth-dyeing demonstrations, and learn how to use a drop spindle. Fiber-arts vendors also will be on hand to display and sell their wares. During the American Revolution, a scarcity of fabric from abroad led to the demand for women to spin and weave to supply material for clothing on the homefront and to support the war effort.
Visitors also can examine the trade of a tailor in the 18th century throughout the day. In preparation for big occasions, tailors in the period often would work together to measure, cut and assemble a suit for someone all in one day.
In the re-created Continental Army encampment, visitors can learn about discipline for soldiers accused of committing a crime during a special program “Pillage, Plunder and Consequences” at 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Afterward, visitors can join an artillery gun crew to learn the steps in firing a “six-pounder” cannon at 11:05 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. and cover their ears as historical interpreters fire the artillery piece.
Yorktown Victory Center visitors can start their experience along an outdoor timeline to gain insight to the events that led to the conflict between the American colonies and Britain. Indoors, visitors can see a rare broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence dating to July 1776 and hear firsthand accounts of the war’s impact on everyday people of the 18th century, including Africans, American Indians and women – for whom the concepts of liberty and equality did not apply. Visitors also can learn about the movements of British, American and French troops that converged on Yorktown in 1781 and take in “A Time of Revolution,” a film shown every 30 minutes in the museum theater. Exhibits also examine the development of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and how people from many different cultures shaped a new society.
Admission is $9.50 for adults and $5.25 for youth ages 6 through 12. A 20-percent savings is available with a value-priced combination ticket with Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia. Various package and ticket options are available online with Williamsburg area attractions. Event activities are funded in part by a leadership grant from Dominion Resources with additional support provided by the York County Arts Commission.
The Yorktown Victory Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 near the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown. Parking is free. A free shuttle service is available during museum operating hours to historic Yorktown and other Williamsburg area attractions.
For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net.