By Ken Wilson –
An Albemarle County landowner named Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe, had a place just up the road and James Madison, mentored by Jefferson and hailed as “the father of the Constitution” settled in nearby Orange County.
These men made history—our American history—and their memory adds richness and depth as we celebrate Independence Day in Central Virginia. Here is a look at some of the ways we’ll observe the holiday.
Charlottesville and Albemarle County
Some of the area’s fastest 5K times have been recorded at the Kiwanis Independence Day 5K, sponsored by Better Living and hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Track Club. The 35th annual race will step off at 7:30 a.m. from Hollymead Elementary School, and more than 250 runners and walkers of all ages are expected to take part. Awards will be given out in all age groups, beginning with kids 10 and under.
For the 13th straight year, proceeds will benefit Camp Holiday Trails, a camp for children with special health needs. “Because of the long-time support of special friends such as the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville, the camp continues to empower, encourage, and educate campers with chronic illnesses,” said Tina LaRoche, CHT, Executive Director. Over the years the Kiwanis Independence Day 5K has donated more than $130,000 to this charity.
Of all the inspirational places in Virginia to celebrate the Fourth of July, the greatest is surely Jefferson’s home, Monticello. At the urging of John Adams, Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence declaring our intent to separate ourselves from our mother country and seek “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” on our own.
Since 1973 over 3,600 immigrants from around the world have taken the oath of citizenship and become Americans at Monticello, and approximately 70 more will join their ranks this Independence Day, on the 242nd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration.
Monticello’s 2018 Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon and is free and open to the public. The Charlottesville Municipal Band will play patriotic favorites including “America the Beautiful,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and the “Armed Forces Salute.”
Andrew Tisch, prominent businessman, civic leader and co-author of the new book, Journeys: An American Story, a collection of 72 essays recounting unique and diverse stories of the immigrant experience, will deliver the keynote address and sign books along with co-author Mary Skafidas.
“One of the most powerful aspects of Monticello’s naturalization ceremony occurs when the judge invites the newly sworn American citizens to speak,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, President and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. “The real meaning of Independence Day—and what it means to be an American—is found in the mosaic of stories shared by these individuals. In the spirit of that tradition, we are honored to welcome Andrew Tisch and his new book of American stories to Monticello.”
One of the only 26 surviving copies of the Emancipation Proclamation will be on display in Monticello’s David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center, and, as an homage to Jefferson who opened his home to the public on July 4, free walk-through tours will be offered from 11:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. following the ceremony. House tour reservations are first-come, first-served.
Parking will be available at Piedmont Virginia Community College, where shuttle buses will depart for the grounds. Shuttle reservations are recommended and guests are requested to arrive by 8 a.m. to allow time for parking and security.
James Monroe gave his country 50 years of public service, beginning in 1776 as an eighteen-year-old lieutenant under General George Washington. In 1782 he was elected to the Virginia General Assembly. Subsequently he served in the Confederation Congress of the United States and in the first United States Senate; twice he was our Minister to France, and later Minister to England and to Spain.
Monroe served as Governor of Virginia three times, as Secretary of State, and as Secretary of War. His greatest achievement as a diplomat was his negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Crowning his career as a statesman, Monroe served for eight years as America’s fifth president, from 1817 to 1825.
James Monroe’s Highland estate (formerly Ash-Lawn Highland) will celebrate the Fourth and commemorate the anniversary of Monroe’s death (July 4, 1831) with live music and patriotic interpretive activities. Students from the Heifetz International Music Institute will play a free concert from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Visitors can enjoy family games and activities from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and are invited to bring picnic lunches. The grounds themselves will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Charlottesville’s neighbors to the west will celebrate the nation’s birthday a little before the rest of us this year, on Saturday, June 30. The Eighth Annual Crozet Independence Day Parade, to include horses and livestock as well as floats and fire trucks, will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Crozet Elementary, head down Crozet Avenue to Tabor Street, turn left, and continue to Claudius Crozet Park.
After the parade there will be live music by Crozet Jam Band, as well as bounce houses and games for children. Traditional American favorites will be available, including barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, popcorn, apple pie, and sno-cones, plus tacos and vegetarian and vegan fare.
Starr Hill Brewery, Blue Mountain Brewery, Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery and Bold Rock Cider will provide liquid refreshment. The whole event will culminate with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Pets will not be allowed. Donations of $4 per person are requested and will benefit non-profit civic groups in Crozet. Children 12 and under get in free.
Stinson Vineyards in Crozet will celebrate Independence Day (and its own fifth anniversary) on Saturday, July 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Barbeque will be served beginning at 1:00 p.m. and music begins at 2:00 p.m. Charlottesville’s premiere boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues dance band, Chickenhead Blues Band will play.
Stanardsville and Greene County
Stanardsville celebrates each Fourth with a festive parade down Main Street. The little town’s historic downtown boasts buildings that were standing during our nation’s beginnings. The Parlor Preachers kick off this year’s festivities from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. with old-timey folk and gospel. The parade begins at 3:00 p.m. and is expected to finish around 3:45 p.m. The schedule for the rest of the day is as follows.
In the Nathaniel Greene Elementary School Parking Lot:
3:00 p.m. –6:00 p.m. –Eddins Ford Cruise In
4:00 p.m. –6:00 p.m. –Cheap Whiskey Band
5:00 p.m. –5:15 p.m. –Mayor’s Choice Award & Eddins Ford Best in Show Award
At the WMHS Football Field:
4:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. –WMHS Jazz Band
4:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. –DJ Goody Goodloe
5:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. –High Horse Cloggers
6:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. –Presentation of the Flag & Singing of the National Anthem
6:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. –Announcements and Prize Drawings
7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –Rogue Magic
8:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. –Groove Train Band
9:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. –Raffle/Door Prize Drawings and Announcements
9:45 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. –Capitol Sheds Community Fireworks Display
Staunton and Augusta County
The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton will hold its annual Independence Day celebration on Wednesday, July 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is “Pay What You Will—a lot, a little, or nothing at all.” No advance ticket purchase is required. The museum promises fun and educational activities for the entire family, including the opportunity to experience living history with special July 4th activities on the 1820’s American Farm.
Artisan craft vendors will also be on hand. Area food vendors will provide breakfast & lunch options. Vendors will include The Lovin’ Crab, R&R Concessions, Flavor Savor BBQ, and MJ’s Kettle Corn & Fresh Lemonade. Alternatively, visitors are welcome to bring picnic lunches.
The 1740s American Farm will feature woodworking, militia drill and firing while Ganatastwi, showcases hidework and trade. The 1820s American Farm will hold its traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence at noon, followed by Toasts and Volley. The 1850s American Farm and Barn will have historic games, a ham and fried potatoes cooking demonstration, sack races around the house, melon seed spitting, and two-man sawing in the barn, a pie eating contest, and a “Who Likes Pie! Event.”
The West African Farm will feature two traditional drums and dance performances. The English Farm will have games and woodworking and a 1630s English militia mock battle. The Irish Forge will hold ironwork demonstrations. The Irish Farm will offer textile work demonstrations. The German Farm will have Kegelspiel (bowling).
The Louisa Volunteer Fire Department will hold its 76th Annual Firemen’s Fair from Wednesday, July 4 through Saturday, July 7 at the Louisa Firemen’s Fairgrounds located off of Fredericksburg Avenue behind Navarre’s Auto (the former Kip Killmon Ford). Gates open at 6:00 p.m. and rides start at 7:00 p.m.
The Great Tasting Classic Fair Foods prepared by Louisa VFD Staff and Auxiliary will offer corndogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, barbeque sandwiches, French fries, nachos, funnel cakes, ice cream and more.
Families can enjoy carnival rides; adults can play Black Jack or Bingo. The Money Giveaway takes place Saturday night; tickets will be available at the Fairgrounds and ahead of time at local businesses. The fireworks display is scheduled for Friday July 6 at 9:30 p.m. Due to state laws governing fireworks they will not be launched from the Little League ball field, but will be best viewed from inside the fairgrounds.
The Fireman’s Parade will be held on Thursday, July 5 beginning along Ellisville Dr. (Rt. 669). The lineup starts at 6:00 p.m. and the parade starts at 7:00 p.m.
Admission to the annual Independence Day celebration at Graves Mountain Lodge is free as always, but the Madison Volunteer Fire Department and the Madison Volunteer Rescue Squad will accept donations for parking.
The Graves Mountain Sycamore Picnic Pavilion will offer dinner for purchase from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. No reservations are needed. The menu will include hot dogs, pork barbeque, chicken tenders, ice cream, funnel cakes, kettle corn and more.
The Graves Mountain Lodge Dining Room will serve a sit-down dinner from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required. The menu is to be announced. There will be live music by South Canal Street from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Sycamore Picnic Pavilion. Graves Mountain will offer pony rides and face painting from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. The fireworks will begin around 9:00 p.m. Celebrants are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the fireworks.
The Nelson County Parks and Recreation Department and the Lovingston Volunteer Fire Department along with support from the County of Nelson will present the Nelson County 4th of July Parade from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This year’s theme is Parade of Stars.
The parade will follow the same route as the County’s 2017 Christmas Parade: from Court Street in Lovingston to Northside Lane, then onto Front Street. It will conclude at Front and Main Streets. Food vendors will be on hand with traditional American fare. Churches, schools and civic groups will celebrate the nation’s birthday with floats, marching groups, antique cars, and more.
There are many ways to celebrate our country’s birthday, and no place more fitting to celebrate in than Central Virginia.