BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The 1770s Festival, promoting historical and environmental education and highlighting the role of unsung Revolutionary War hero William Alexander, Lord Stirling, who served under General George Washington, returns this fall to his former Manor house in Basking Ridge.

The event invites the public to learn about Lord Stirling, and to step back in time to the colonial period at the Somerset County Park Commission's Lord Stirling Park at 96 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge.

This year's 1770s festival is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6.

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Each year visitors to Lord's Stirling's estate can view re-enactments, chat with colonial craftspeople plying their trade, tour Lord Stirling's personal wine cellar (which is only once a year, for this event), and to enjoy colonial era music played on instruments of the period, along with food and fresh pressed apple cider.

Re-enactors will be attired in replicas of 1770s clothing, including a blacksmith, tinsmith, militias, and other trades people of the times. Crafters make toys, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn. However, crafts are sold at this entertaining and educational event.  

Suggested donation for visitors is $5 per person. The 1770s Festival will be held rain or shine.

Volunteers needed to be part of event

The county park commission is also seeking volunteers to support the Lord Stirling 1770s Festival. The volunteers are free to choose whether they wish to wear period clothing appropriate for the colonial era, said Rich Reitman, a spokesperson for the park commission.

Volunteers will be asked to assist with children’s games, the clay table, the quill writing table, the stenciling table, hay rides, and other crafts. They are asked to arrive at 10:30 a.m. to receive training for their areas, and to stay until 5 p.m. to help with clean up, according to the county.

For more information about volunteer opportunities call 908-722-1200, ext. 5002.

Learn about New Jersey's role in the American Revolution

Each year, the long-running event provides an educational and enjoyable way to learn about colonial times and the importance of New Jersey's role in the American Revolution.

Visitors can tour and interact with re-enactors in the the camps of Heard's Brigade and Captain John Outwater's Militia and watch as the militias conduct maneuvers.

A colonial tailor will display his tools and a professional Town Crier will read the Declaration of Independence.    

Activities for children, learning about Lord Stirling

Children who attend can can try stenciling, quill writing, making clay pots, playing colonial games, and pet goats and chickens. A working cider press will show how cider was made and a hay wagon will take visitors for a ride around Lord Stirling's meadows.  

Visitors are also able to try on period style clothing, or to poss in the wooden pillory while friends and family take photographs.

However, when it's time to eat, attendees can return to 2019 and enjoy a healthy lunch for purchase from Dean’s Natural Food Market.

Lord Stirling (the Scottish earldom and title acquired by William Alexander of Basking Ridge) was close friends with George Washington and served as a Major General directly under Washington's command during the American revolution. 

Stirling built his manor house circa 1762 and lived there for 20 years. An archeological team sponsored by the Somerset County Park Commission has excavated part of the site and has studied the recovered artifacts, which are on display for the public. 

Part of the original Stirling manor house foundation still exists under the house now occupying the site and the cellar is open to the public for tours for the day.  

For more information about the 1770s Festival call the Environmental Education Center at 908-722-1200, ext. 5002 or Relay Service dial 711 for individuals with hearing impairments.  

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found on the Somerset County Park Commission website.