Monday, September 21, 2009

George Washington's Mt. Vernon 18th Century Fair

We spent Saturday & Sunday both at George Washington's Mt Vernon, at which the annual 18th Century Fair was taking place. I took the DP2 and DP1, no DSLR, the first DP2 photos are online on flickr, more to come. The fair is a combination 'history' event, with some craftspeople, re-enactors, demonstrators, and of course the host, the retired General and President George Washington

Gen. Washington was played by Dean Malissa, whose website is here

He gave a splendid 45-minute account of his life, the early years in which he was the leader of the Virginia colonial militia, the events leading up to the Revolutionary War, and through to his retirement at Mt Vernon after his service as first US President. Malissa did a marvelous job IMHO as speaker and actor, the kids watching were really enthralled... I searched for who this actor was (Dean Malissa) today and see that he has portrayed Washington in movies as well as in many situations at Mt. Vernon and even official events the White House.
One of my photos on flickr:

See more by going to

The boatride on the Potomac was also very enjoyable on a lovely, sunny, but not too warm day on Sunday.

I'm fond of this event at Mt. Vernon, I once participated myself as a spinner and wool dyer and demonstrator.. In preparation I learned a lot about Washington's life and the estate before the event, as it's continual "demo" to the public when you're a participant... some spectators are so far removed from history and craft knowledge they think you need to kill the sheep to get the wool
This was one of my final craft shows around 2000, and I've always considered it as going out in fine style. I was in costume, it was hot and sunny, and really quite a strain, but indeed a priviledge to be there.. even if I didn't sell much yarn and knitwear LOL. Lydia also participated dressed in a colonial costume that dated back to mother's and my spinning demonstrations around the US Bicentennial.

A selection of photos are online at for more characters too in addition to Gen. Washington... the juggler, sword swallower and medicine man in addition to the French lacemaker whom I remember from the year I participated in the Fair. Re General Washington, it's interesting that's how he referred to himself rather than "President." He even spoke in an interesting accent... I bet researched.. kind of combination of what I'd think of as "southern" and US and somewhat "British"

Mt Vernon has added an extensive museum of Washington artifacts and illustrative history; the museum is very well done both in layout and in content. What many do not realize about Washington is his leading role in what is called in US the French and Indian Wars, aka in Europe the Seven Years War.. in which he acted in effect as one of the main "British" military leaders although he never held ... or could hold... a British commission.. being an "American" ... a "colonist." The museum shows the importance of this period in his life, which led to his fame in the 18th century as a military leader and as some degree of preparation for leading the American Revolutionary army.

We also found several photos of Nick's mother's cousin Charles Cecil Wall, who was the Resident Director of Mt Vernon for many decades.. pictured with everyone from General Charles deGaulle to Price Charles and other foreign dignitaries. We must show photos of the photos to Nick's mother.

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