Thursday, 9 June 2016

Market Fair Day at Claude Moore Colonial Farm, Virginia.

On the third weekend in May 2016, David and I slipped through time and found ourselves deep in North America's colonial past. It was Market Fair day at Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Fairfax County, Virginia only 20 minutes drive from Washington DC. It was the year 1771, four years before the American War of Independence. The local townspeople had gathered to show off their wares, sell their produce and socialise with one another.


Sadly, travelling back in time did nothing to improve the wet and miserable weather which has plagued us since our arrival in the U.S. However despite the mud, the fair was loads of fun. Americans love to dress up - they do period costume events better than anywhere else in the world. The staff and volunteers threw themselves into the fair with gusto, acting out the roles of pre-revolutionary Virginians as if they were truly living in the past. David, a history buff, was in his element spending much of his time discussing the finer points of the events leading to the War of Independence with a frock-coated gentleman who was happy to indulge him. I skipped the history lesson - I get a fair bit of that from D (lol) - and spent my time browsing for time-travel souvenirs and listening to the beautiful baritones of a troupe of singers.

Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm
The gentleman on the right was happy to indulge David in a discussion on American history. His slightly mortified expression came from the fact that he had just learned we were from Australia and was certain therefore we must be escaped convicts. For once I had the upper hand when it comes to history and was able to set him straight that in 1771 it would be seventeen years before convicts would set foot in New South Wales.
Just in case we were struggling with the 'where and when' of the Market Fair.

Spining cloth at Claude Moore Colonial Market Fair
This would be so much fun - as long as you didn't actually have to do it for a living.

Roasting chickens at Claude Moore Market Fair
We ate delicious roast chicken rolls for lunch.

Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm
This looked for all the world like a pizza oven but it wasn't.

Iron ore smelter at Claude Moore Market Fair
Smelting  iron ore the old fashioned way. Andrew Forrest eat your heart out - sorry guys this is an in-joke for Australians.

The Claude Moore Market Fair is held on the third full weekends of May, July and October. If you are anywhere in the vicinity on Market Day, I can highly recommend the trip back in time.

If you miss the Fair, you can visit the farmhouse and gardens at Claude Moore Colonial Farm on Wednesdays to Sundays from 1 April to 11 December. The entrance to Claude Moore is on Colonial Farm Rd in McLean, Virginia opposite the CIA complex at Langley - which is fun to drive past. Just don't turn into the wrong driveway!

Claude Moore Colonial Farm
Inside the farmhouse at Claude Moore Colonial Farm - check out the chicken!

Claude Moore Colonial Farm
Inside the farmhouse again.
This post is the second in a series on our road and cycling trip from Washington D.C to Maine. For last week's post on visiting Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, click here.
For all my posts on this road trip click here.

Each new post will be published on a Thursday or Friday, depending on your time zone.

Note: David and I received complimentary admission to the Market Fair.

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30 comments:

  1. What an awesome experience for you Lyn. Lucky you knew your Australian history so you could assure the Americans you weren't escaped convicts!! Re-enactments are such a cool way to become immersed in history.

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    1. David and I have always enjoyed living history events. Our boys are grown up now but we had some wonderful times when they were younger visiting events like this one.

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  2. Looks like a fascinating place with interesting displays.

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    1. It was, especially the outbuildings and farm.

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  3. what a fun event! #weekend travel inspiration

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  4. Prime! :) Sorry the weather has been so rotten during your visit thus far (I live about 2 hours south of DC and remember how particularly bad May was). June has turned out to be a much better situation, and I hope you're still in-country to enjoy it!

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    1. Yes we are still in the U.S. We are in Cape Cod and the weather is much better. A couple of days ago though we got caught in a thunderstorm while we were out cycling and got completely drenched. It took two days to dry out my shoes. Today was perfect.

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  5. Love a trip back in time! Great pics.

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    1. If there is a chance to go back in time we're always up for it - lol.

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  6. What a great place! This market reminds me a lot about Colonial Williamsburg which is part of the Historic Triangle of Virginia. The same kind of costumes that recreate the atmosphere of the American Revolution era. I'm sure you had a lot of fun there, Lyn. Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. David and I took our boys to Colonial Williamsburg many years ago when they were five and nine years old. It is a fantastic place to get in touch with history. I will never forget it because it was unseasonably cold and we all nearly froze to death - but we still had a great day.

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  7. Lyn I think that's so great you were able to set the gentleman straight on the history details! Brilliant. Sorry to hear about the wet weather. Ugh hopefully lots of sunshine coming your way.

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    1. I am not that great at history. I love reading about how people lived in the past but I just glaze over when it comes to dates - but then I have D for that. The best thing about living history events is that they are all about the lives of the people. The first living history museum we ever went to was Upper Canada Village - we just loved it.

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  8. Magnificent event and area of the world, if I say so myself. I live about 5 miles from Claude Moore and have been there a few times.

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    1. Wow - we were so close to you. We loved the area and the bike paths are fantastic.

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  9. Did you get to dress up in costume too? What a cool event, hope the weather cooperates a little better for you!

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    1. We could have dressed up but we didn't. Carting an 18th Century wardrobe to the US might have been pushing our luggage allowance just a tad too far. One day though I would love to done one of the beautiful dresses the wealthy ladies wore in those days.

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    2. I dressed in costume to staff the Colonial Tavern at a Market Fair. I have great respect for women of that era as a result...! Thanks for coming to our event. You and David are welcome back anytime. Vicki Baker

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    3. Thank you Victoria. We had a great morning. I hope the fair was a success.

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  10. Thanks for highlighting one of the attractions in our backyard (yes, we too live in the Washington area). My wife and I actually lived less than a mile for the Claude Moore Colonial Farm for more than ten years. Are you really cycling from DC to Maine?

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    1. Next time we come to Washington I am going to let everyone know beforehand and organise a get together. I can see a great opportunity was missed here. No, we aren't cycling from DC to Maine - I think that would just about kill us. We brought our bikes over from Australia and hired a car when we arrived in New York. We are driving to Maine and doing a lot of cycling along the way. We are averaging about 30 miles a day which given that we are on mountain bikes (much slower than road bikes) is not too bad. I have a draft post written, ready to publish in two weeks explaining exactly what we are doing. I should have published it first but it wasn't ready to go.

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  11. The Claude Moore Colonial Farm looks like a great place to visit, regardless of the weather. I spent a lot of time when we were in the US, googling and getting up to speed on the history.

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    1. David loves the U.S and we have been coming back regularly for years so I have got a fair bit of a handle on their history. I find it always helps to know a bit about the country you are visiting - definitely improves the experience.

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  12. Love these trips back in time and as writers I think we become fully immersed in the experience and our imaginations ar fired up! The Claude Moore Colonial Farm looks a fabulous place for this!

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    1. There is nothing like living history to make the past really come to life. It is so much more interesting than just reading about an historical period.

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  13. Market Fair day at Claude Moore Colonial Farm sounds delightful. I enjoy living history and am now hoping to experience this someday myself.

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    1. There are so many living history museums in Nth America. Some are better than others. It is always worthwhile looking at their calendar and going on a special day, or at least on a weekend. The more people around the more real it feels and many of the demonstrations run more often on weekends.

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  14. I've always wanted to visit the Claude Moore Market and Farm! I love the quality of your photos too. I don't think I see any kids, though, did you see any families there (the performers as well as visitors)?

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    1. Take the kids - they will love it. We used to take our boys to living history events all the time. I remember a few children wandering about at the fair. I don't recall any children amongst the performers. However we were there soon after the fair opened. There were a lot more people and families arriving as we left.

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