Friday, May 29, 2015

A Totally New Experience for Visitors

Beginning Saturday June 20, just as the darkness falls on our horse lot, on Moonlight Road just outside of Smithfield, VA, we will have a modest beginning to what will grow into a significant part of our role as an educational institution.

Half an hour before sunset we will have a round pen demonstration using our Colonial Spanish horses, primarily the Corollas, Choctaws and Marsh Tacky. During that demonstration we will explain about the off site breeding program and how we can work to prevent the extinction of these historic horses.

As darkness falls visitors will be invited to move over to our replica of a a mid seventeenth century settlers farm, consisting of his home, small garden, corn crib, tobacco barn, and fully functioning smokehouse. As they are seated in the farm yard on rustic benches just off from the hog pen and over near the colonial goats and chickens they will meet Patrick Gwaltney, my fictitious but totally historical accurate ancestor who established his first home site here at the conclusion of his indenture.

He might sit back and between bites of the ham and side meat that he smoked and is now cooking tell visitors about life here only two generations from the first settlement at Jamestown. He will talk about his pride and joy--his horses--in Wales where he came from a man of his social class could never dream of owning a horse, much less the small band of horses that he has accumulated. He will speak of freedom and he will speak of slavery. He will speak of bounty and riches and he will speak of of the utter poverty that comes though the loss of everything through a fire. He will remind you of the beats that you have long forgotten being here--wild hogs, the still present threat of wolves, and his first taste of roasted cougar. He will remind you of his greatest fear, the power of "big witches", be the of African or Indian descent.

There will be no admission charged to visitors, although we will encourage and accept donations to the Gwaltney Frontier Farm. We want to see the living history aspect of our program grow over the next few years.

All the way through college and law school I worked at Jamestown and helped develop some of the living history programs that were created there in the early 1980's. I have always found it to be one of the best ways to teach--especially when teaching shocking facts--like the fact that the eastern woodland buffalo was found just one county over from Isle of Wight in the 1600's or that the pine thickets and swamps known by their Algonquin name of "poquosins" were thought to be the abode of demons.

Who better to teach such things than a man who had hunted such buffalo and feared such demons?

Outdoor drama is always weather dependent. We will make this program grow as we have with every other aspect of our program--never biting off more than we can chew and never moving a single step towards simply becoming just another place where spoiled little rich kids ride ponies in circles.

For information about performance schedules email us at

No comments: