The unique history and agricultural roots of Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, VA. will be celebrated a bit differently this year. The annual Court Days festival, held each June, also has a new name this time around: Court & Market Days.
The Saturday, June 6 festival activities will be held at the Downtown Harrisonburg Farmers Market located at the Turner Pavilion and Park. This year’s festival hours are 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“It’s a great pairing, where people coming to shop at the farmers market can come to the event — people that come to the event can come over to the market,” says Kris Ludwig, Special Events Manager at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.
There is no cost to attend the event, which is geared toward families and people of all ages. Ludwig explained that re-enactors from the 1850s will make visitors think they have stepped into Harrisonburg as it was in the mid-1800s. Visitors can enjoy a walking tour of historic Harrisonburg, and visit with old friends and neighbors as they mingle with the costumed characters from the 1850s.
“The are some activities that will almost guide you on a tour of downtown. So you can learn about the history of Harrisonburg,” Ludwig says. “We have a walking tour that will be happening. We’ll also have mini-lectures. There’s a wonderful passport program for children, where they have a little booklet and they go around to different artisans and they find different buildings and fill out their passport in order to win a prize. So its a great way to learn about Harrisonburg and take some tours of the town and not just from the park area.”
Court & Market Days features a play called “Dog Days at Town Council.” The play offers a bit of humor along with history and will be performed by the Valley Players in the city council chambers. The script has been created directly from original Harrisonburg City Council minutes that date back to the 1850s.
Other activities include games for children, music and dancing, as well as horse and carriage rides, which will occur about every 15 or 20 minutes throughout the entire event. Along with arts and crafts vendors and the farmers market vendors, there will be plenty of food available.
The market offers a wide variety of locally-grown produce, including fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, bedding plants and shrubs for landscaping, and fresh-cut flowers. In addition, visitors will find home-baked breads and cookies, cheeses, honey, fruit pies, brown eggs, pastured chicken, beef, and lamb and much more.
Local and regional artisans will be on hand to demonstrate historic arts known in contemporary society as the southern decorative arts. These talented artisans create objects and goods that were used daily in the 1850s.
At Court & Market Days, a variety of artisans and craftsmen will display heritage skills such as textile-making and spinning, pottery, oil painting, furniture making, wood-turning, engraving and gun-stocking.
For people visiting Harrisonburg from out of town, there will be signs from the Interstate 81 that guide the route to the downtown area. From I-81, take Exit 245 (Port Republic Road). Turn right onto Main Street (U.S. Rt. 11) and travel north until the Municipal Building appears on the left. Watch for signs. Free parking is available in the Water Street parking deck and the municipal lot on Liberty Street.
For more information, visit www.courtdaysfestival.org or call (540) 432-8922.