BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Many people know that Basking Ridge was at the crossroads of the American Revolutionary War, but not all know just how significant a role the town played. With the return of Somerset County's annual "Living History - 1770s Festival" on Sunday, both adults and children will have an opportunity to learn about the history in their back yard - as well as what life was like for residents in this area almost 250 years ago.
Each year, Somerset County hosts the festival at Lord Stirling's Manor House in Lord Stirling Park, at 96 Lord Stirling Road, nearby the Environmental Education Center at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge.
1770s Festival begins at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday
This year's Colonial-era festival is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2.
The 1770s Festival promotes historical and environmental education, highlighting the unsung and little-known Revolutionary War hero William Alexander, Lord Stirling, who lived on the site and served under General George Washington.
Lord Stirling built a manor house and courtyard on the property in 1762. He was appointed to command the 1st New Jersey Battalion in 1775.
Each year the estate at Lord Stirling Park comes back to life in the late 18th century, with reenactors and when Lord Stirling himself joins visitors, answering questions about his many business ventures and his successes in battle against the British.
Visitors are invited to enjoy Lord Stirling as he reviews his troops, visits with local craftspeople, and tours his personal wine cellar. The historic home's wine cellar is only open this one day of the year.
Suggested donation is $5 per person. The 1770s Festival will be held rain or shine.
With reenactors attired in replicas of 1770s clothing, visitors will meet a blacksmith, tinsmith, furniture maker, cooper, and other trades people of the times. Crafters make toys, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn. No crafts are sold at this entertaining and educational event.
However, modern (and healthy) food will be available for purchase as provided by Dean's Natural Food Market of Basking Ridge.
The festival is held each year on the first Sunday in October.
The event provides an authentic portrayal of the historic era. Demonstrations will be given by a blacksmith, tinsmith, furniture maker, cooper, and other trades people of the times, in replicas of clothing true to the 1770s period. Those who attend the annual event also sometimes enjoy dressing in garb that recalls the era.
Children and other history lovers can see crafters make toys, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn. Colonial women will demonstrate how butter was made and how simple household chores were done without the help of electricity and modern appliances. No crafts are sold at this entertaining and educational event.
Music from the era is also provided.
For more information about the 1770s Festival call the Environmental Education Center at 908-766-2489 or for 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 at www.somersetcountyparks.org.