YORKTOWN, Va., September 1, 2015 — When justices of the peace held court in the 18th century, outside of legal proceedings it was a time of fun among the townspeople who gathered for trade and festivities. Role-play trials and tax protests as well as period games and storytelling highlight “Court Days,” September 19 and 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution.
Court Days will offer a glimpse of recreation, entertainment and other activities that took place when court was in session during the 18th century. At 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day, visitors can learn how county courts handled matters affecting daily life, from the welfare of citizens to major crimes, and take part in role play of a day in court, perhaps as a justice or witness, or even the accused. Trials are based on actual court cases that took place in York County in the 18th century.
At 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Revolution-period farm, visitors can join in a protest of the 1765 Stamp Act, a tax Parliament imposed on legal papers and other printed goods in the colonies as a means to pay for British troops in America. At 12:30 and 4 p.m. each day, visitors can train as a member of the Virginia militia.
Visitors of all ages can enjoy learning about and playing period games such as trap ball, hoops, shuttlecock, quoits, “Shut the Box” counting game, cup and ball, mancala and nine-men’s morris. Games will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
At 1 p.m., visitors can enjoy storytelling by Sheila Arnold Jones on Saturday and, on Sunday, Sheldon Browder. Sheila Arnold Jones is a professional storyteller and operates History’s Alive! storytelling company. Sheldon Browder, a retired blacksmith from Colonial Williamsburg, tells stories of the Scottish Highlands.
In the re-created Continental Army encampment, visitors can join an artillery gun crew at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to learn the steps in firing an 18th-century artillery piece and cover their ears as historical interpreters complete the firing. At 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., they also can learn about discipline for soldiers accused of committing a crime.
Visitors also can enjoy aspects of an 18th-century market, such as trade demonstrations, vendors selling reproduction period goods, and sheep on display. Youngsters can take part in a craft by making puppets of people and farm animals reminiscent of 1700s community life.
About the Yorktown Victory Center
The Yorktown Victory Center is undergoing a transformation into the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, to open late 2016. Inside a new museum building, three Revolution-theme films are shown on a rotating basis, and an illustrated timeline transports visitors from the 1750s to the 1790s. Visitors can try on reproductions of a French regimental coat and uniforms of other nationalities present at the 1781 Siege of Yorktown. An exhibit of artifacts and interactive displays previews elements of the new museum. Outdoors, visitors can witness artillery and interpretive demonstrations and engage with historical interpreters at the re-created Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm.
The Yorktown Victory Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. General admission is $9.75 for adults, $5.50 for ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. The museum is administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net.