Big Fun planned at ‘The Jewel on the James’ Chippokes Plantation State Park

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: Oct. 19, 2017 | 12:15 p.m. 

SURRY – This Saturday, you can take the kids to see history come alive while having so much fun they’ll never suspect that it “might” be a little bit “educational” as well! So many family-fun activities are planned for the Chippokes’ Annual Harvest Festival on October 21 that it’s hard to imagine how everything can be crammed into six and a half hours, according to Park Manager Ben Richard.

“Four years ago, the Friends of Chippokes decided to offer a family-friendly fall event – that wasn’t cost prohibitive – with activities for families with young children to encourage them to come experience harvest time,” Richard said. “I have a houseful of kids, so I guess my favorite part is that it’s all Moms, Dads, Grandparents, and kids going around from one activity to another having fun. And for only a $5 parking fee (per vehicle, not per person) everyone can build a scarecrow, paint a pumpkin, create a corncob doll, play a round of corn hole, take a hayride, and so much more.”

“Volunteers will have corncobs, fabric – all the materials for the crafts there, cut up and ready to work with,” Richard explained, “and we’ll have adult volunteers at each station to help the kids put the things together.”

And that’s only the beginning, according to Richard, as “From toddlers up through teens we’ll have special things – like a corn-dig table for little kids to find prizes and a new pedal tractor area. For older kids, there’ll be a straw fort to play on and games like father-son sack races and there’ll be cornhole boards set up, plus we’ll have our stilts out there for people of all ages to play with. You’ll see anything from grandfathers to little kids out there laughing and learning to walk around on those.”

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Of course, as Chippokes Plantation State Park is one of the oldest, continually farmed plantations in the nation, you’d expect there to be historical elements to the day, but even those are cloaked in fun.

“Besides the Colonial-era games like the sack races,” Richard continued, “We’ll have costumed interpreters doing things like cooking on the hearth in the 1854 Brick Kitchen and weaving baskets and spinning thread. And the Tidewater Engine Club partners with us to set up antique harvest equipment for the day. Folks can see things – in operation – like an antique hay press, a hand-cranked cornsheller, a corn grinder running off an antique engine. They’ll even have an antique stationary peanut picker harvesting peanuts from the vine – operated by an antique tractor. Oh! And we’ll have antique tractor-drawn hayrides all day long.”

Richard said that festival-goers are welcome to shop with the craft vendors or enjoy a tasty lunch from one of the food vendors on hand, “But,” he was quick to add, “except for the crafts and the food, everything else is included with the parking fee, so a whole family can come out and have a great day just for the cost of $5 for parking their car.”

Rosemary Green, Secretary of Friends of Chippokes and one of the volunteers with the kids’ area, said that last year’s festival hosted about 1,600 people and that this year they expect 2,000 – 2,500. But at 1,947 acres, the park has plenty of room for everyone to have fun with no crowding. She said that her favorite part is listening to the Appalachian Music Ensemble from William and Mary playing “really great bluegrass music all day long.”

“The whole day is just a lot of fun,” Green added. “We like to tell people to ‘bring the kids – and the kid in you!”

Chippokes’ Annual Harvest Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. October 21, and the $5 per vehicle park admission fee also includes the opportunity to tour the antebellum Jones-Stewart Mansion and Farm & Forestry
Museum. For further information, call (757) 294-3728.

Copyright 2017 by Womack Publishing
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