Arts & Entertainment

Revolutionary War History to Come Alive Sunday in Basking Ridge

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Lord Stirling himself each year appears at Somerset County's 1770s Festival to tour his troops and answer visitors' questions. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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At an earlier Lord Stirling 1770s Festival, Bruce Hockenbury demonstrated the art of blacksmithing, a vitally important early American trades. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Colonial soldier re-enactors set up an authentic camp from the era at a previous 1770s Festival at Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Historic markers give historic background on Lord Stirling and the part he and his manor in Basking Ridge played in the American Revolutionary War. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Re-enactors with Heard's Brigade, New Jersey Militia (Somerset County) demonstrate Colonial cooking. Carol Harabin of South Bound Brook prepares pea soup. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Justin Kavanaugh of Oldwick took part in the Somerset County 4-H display at an earlier Lord Stirling 1770s Festival at Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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Colonial Music entertained children, and even encouraged a few to dance, at an earlier 1770s Festival at Somerset County's Lord Stirling Park. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
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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

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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.

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