by Grace Hodgman
The Living History Saturdays fall on two days in August that focus on the Falls Church community during the Civil War era.
The first of the two Living History Saturdays took place on Saturday, Aug. 6 and the second will take place on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Cherry Hill Farmhouse at 312 Park Avenue.
The free events consist of family friendly activities, games and tours of the Cherry Hill Farmhouse Barn.
The Living History Saturday activities are for all ages and give everyone a chance to experience life during the Civil War in the Falls Church area. There will be Civil War period children’s activities and games and the Farmhouse will still also be open for tours for adults.
“It’s an opportunity to learn more about what life was like during that time period” said Corey Jannicelli, the manager of the Farmhouse.
The theme of the first Living History Saturday event was Civilians Under Siege, featuring the Victorian Society of Falls Church. The Victorian Society of Falls Church wore their period clothes and spoke about topics such as Thaddeus Lowe’s aerial surveillance and the Ladies Sanitary Commission.
All topics covered were linked to Falls Church in some manner. Children’s activities on the 6th included the classic hoop and stick game and the chance to churn butter.
“The activities are very straightforward,” Jannicelli said. “We’re hoping that people really enjoy the opportunity to learn more about their community’s history.”
The theme of the second event is Life of a Soldier. The Civil War reenactment group, the 28th Massachusetts Regiment, will speak about what life was like as a soldier during the Civil War time period, specifically focusing on life in a camp. Activities on the 27th are a ball and cup game and quill penmanship.
Civil War Day occurs annually every May at Cherry Hill, but, due to heavy amounts of rain, some of the most popular activities had to be cancelled or postponed that day.
Due to the weather, the groups were invited to come on days in August to avoid undesirable weather and allow the activities that were cancelled to proceed. Activities from the May program and previous years include using ciphering wheels to decode messages, watercolors, Civil War relics and coloring.
The groups in close partnership with the Living History series are the Victorian Society of Falls Church and the 28th Massachusetts Regiment.
The Victorian Society of Falls Church is an organization that focuses on preserving the heritage of Falls Church, and educating the community about all aspects of the Victorian era. Instead of focusing on just one aspect of the Civil War, they cover topics from the 1840s – 1910.
The programs are different from other reenactment groups because they “really focus on Falls Church specifically and how the community was impacted directly,” Jannicelli said.
The presentations focus on 19th century Falls Church specifically, not just the Civil War time period in general. The Cherry Hill Farmhouse is open throughout the year, acting as an education platform.
On non Living History Saturdays, people can dress in period clothing, play old-fashioned parlor games and shell and grind corn in the barn. Corn grinding is also available during the Living History events, but there are fees for the activity. Similar programs occur on August 26 at the Manassas National Battlefield Park and August 26 – 28 at the Fort Frederick State Park in Maryland.