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Experience Holidays of Centuries Past at Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center


WILLIAMSBURG, Va., November 10, 2009 – Experience holidays of centuries past this season at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, state-operated living-history museums that tell the story of our nation’s beginnings, during two special events, “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia,” November 26-28, and “A Colonial Christmas,” December 1-January 3, 2010.

Yorktown Victory Center farm interpreters prepare garden vegetables4.jpgThe season begins with “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia,” an annual three-day event beginning on Thanksgiving Day that explores foodways of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia, from food preparation by Powhatan Indians and America’s first permanent English colonists to the rations of Revolutionary War soldiers and crops harvested by 18th-century farmers.  “A Colonial Christmas” offers a month-long glimpse of holiday traditions of the period, from the hardships experienced by early Jamestown colonists and soldiers of the American Revolution to holiday preparations on a re-created 1780s farm.

Throughout the year, Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia, and the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, present artifact-filled gallery exhibits and historical interpretation and hands-on activities in outdoor re-created settings – a Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships, colonial fort and riverfront discovery area at Jamestown Settlement, and Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm at the Yorktown Victory Center.

FOODS & FEASTS OF COLONIAL VIRGINIA – November 26-28Cooking stew in Jamestown Settlement re-created Powhatan village.jpg
At Jamestown Settlement, learn how food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and at sea by Virginia’s English colonists and Powhatan Indians. In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, visitors will be able to see venison, turkey and other game roast over an open fire, while stews of corn, beans and squash cook in clay pots. A daily program at 12 noon will show the importance of corn to the Powhatan Indians and the variety of dishes in which it was used, including corncakes and corn dumplings.

At 10:30 a.m. each day at the ships’ pier, visitors will be invited to haul cargo out of a replica of one of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607, to learn how the colony was provisioned, as well as explore typical sailors’ fare of salted fish, biscuit and dried foods.  At the riverfront discovery area, a special program at 11 a.m. each day will compare Powhatan Indian preservation techniques of smoking fish with the English methods of salting fish. At 1 p.m. each day, visitors can explore the influences of Powhatan, English and African cultures on the preparation of a variety of food derived from the river, including fish, shellfish and waterfowl.

Jamestown Settlement foodways fit for a governor.jpgWithin the re-created 1610-14 fort, food preparation will reflect the culinary skills English colonists brought to Virginia. On Thursday and Friday, an entire pig will be processed into hams and bacon, followed by salting for preservation, including a special program on pork preparation at 11:30 a.m. both days. Historical interpreters will bake bread at 1:30 p.m. on all three days, and throughout the event will demonstrate open-hearth cooking of pudding, pies and pottage, based on recipes published by Elinore Fettiplace in 1604 and Robert May in 1660.

Open-hearth cooking at the Yorktown Victory Center.jpgAt the Yorktown Victory Center, visitors to the re-created Continental Army encampment can learn how soldiers turned meager rations of dried beans, salted meat and hard bread into nourishing soups and stews. Daily artillery drills and military tactics at 11:05 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. will show visitors how soldiers earned their rations. Plundering and theft sometimes occurred when rations were scarce, and a special program at 10:45 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. will illustrate the consequences. At the re-created 1780s farm, visitors can witness the bounty of field and garden transformed into stews, pies and breads at 11:45 a.m. and 2:05 p.m. daily in the farm kitchen using 18th-century cooking techniques and recipes, and at 3:35 p.m., methods of preserving the fruit and vegetable harvest for the winter ahead. See “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia” schedule of events.

A COLONIAL CHRISTMAS – December 1-January 3, 2010
The Lord of Misrule at Jamestown Settlement1.jpgAt Jamestown Settlement, a holiday film and special guided tours compare and contrast English Christmas customs of the period with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of America’s first permanent English colony. Holiday-themed tours, beginning each day at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m., will guide visitors through the museum’s outdoor interpretive areas. Among the highlights, visitors will learn about the English colonists’ first Christmas at sea in December 1606, and the Powhatan Indian hospitality shown to Captain John Smith’s trading party in 1608 during a winter storm. Visitors also will encounter the English tradition of the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief,” who with his followers progressed through town during the Christmas holiday. Lord of Misrule presentations will be held at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily, and beginning Dec. 19, at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. 

A Colonial Christmas at the Yorktown Victory Center.jpgAt the Yorktown Victory Center, hear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a 1780s farm. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment can learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war, as well as assist the quartermaster in preparing military supplies, and at 11:05 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. daily, observe artillery demonstrations. At the farm, historical interpreters will demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast, decorating with greenery and demonstrating cooking in the farm kitchen.

Holiday events included in general admission
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily year-round; closed Christmas and New Year’s days. Special holiday programs are included with admission. A combination ticket is $19.25 for adults and $9.25 for youth ages 6-12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $14.00 for adults and $6.25 for youth ages 6-12. Admission to the Yorktown Victory Center is $9.25 for adults and $5.00 for youth ages 6-12 (2010: $9.50 adults; $5.25 for youth ages 6-12). Children under age 6 receive complimentary admission. Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center admission tickets are included in several Williamsburg area joint tickets and vacation packages.

Pumpkin soup at the Yorktown Victory Center farm.jpgFood preparation in the museums’ interpretive areas during “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia” is for demonstration purposes only. Jamestown Settlement’s café, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, offers a variety of soups, sandwiches and refreshments, and visitors can purchase a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day. For menu details, call (757) 253-2571 or visithttps://jyfmuseums.org/foods-and-feasts.htm.

In time for holiday shopping, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center gift shops offer a selection of books, prints, museum reproductions, educational toys, games and souvenirs relating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Admission is not required to visit the museum gift shops, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 South at the Colonial Parkway next to Historic Jamestowne, administered by Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service.  The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown near Yorktown Battlefield, administered by the National Park Service. The museums are separated by a 30-minute drive along the scenic Colonial Parkway.  For more information about the history museums and holiday programming, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visithif.ciniva.net.