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Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Tea and the Arts is a spring tradition that celebrates old and new

Mary Miller, of Hagerstown, sits by her booth, Mere Dan Crafts, during a past festival. This year's Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts at Montpelier Mansion will be on Saturday.
Mary Miller, of Hagerstown, sits by her booth, Mere Dan Crafts, during a past festival. This year's Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts at Montpelier Mansion will be on Saturday. (Baltimore Sun Media Group file)

For decades, families have celebrated the sights and sounds of nature, history and art at the Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Tea and the Arts on the grounds of the Montpelier Mansion Historic Site.

Featuring dozens of vendors of herbs, fine arts and crafts and flowers, the festival, now in its 23rd year, typically draws 1,500 visitors to the 70-acre National Historic Landmark, according to Holly Burnham, museum educator.

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As in years past, the festival will fill the grounds, once a part of the plantation owned by Maryland’s prominent Snowden family, from mid-morning until 4 p.m. Saturday when the festival winds down. The Horticultural Gardening Team led by Mike Koznowsky, which serves about a dozen other county-owned properties, worked diligently to prepare the grounds.

The festival typically raises about $1,500, after expenses, which goes to supporting the historic site under the management of Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation, Burnham said. Parks and Recreation covers the basic maintenance for the building, as well as the utilities, salaries and program initiatives, according to Mary Jurkiewicz, museum manager.

Cardboard displays of Inspector Pediment, the Historic Site’s mascot, will accept voluntary cash donations to support the mansion’s upkeep. Inspector Pediment displays collected about $300 in donations at last year’s festival, Burnham said.

Among this year’s festival sponsors are Grand Rental Events, the Maryland States Arts Council and Portly Walker of the Freestate Happy Wanderers.

Inspector Pediment will be on hand for donations.
Inspector Pediment will be on hand for donations. (Baltimore Sun Media Group file)

Maryland Milestones, also known as Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, awarded the Montpelier Historic Site a grant of $1,750 to support the festival.

Festivalgoers can look forward to stepping back in time to enjoy favorites such as woodturning demos by the Chesapeake Woodturners, 5K walks with the Happy Wanderers, basket weaving in the children’s tent and teas catered by the Tea Trolley in the East Wing of the Historic House.

Tea seatings are at 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 and must be reserved by April 26 at pgparks.com.

The Montpelier Arts Center’s resident artist studios will be open for tours.

The center’s galleries feature works by Patricia Bowden, Jill Tanenbaum and Cathy Abramson, as well as a collaborative exhibit by Lori Boocks, Mark Cameron Boyd, Nancy Daly, Maren Hansen and Molly Springfield.

Throughout the day, art demonstrations and spring-themed crafts will entertain visitors, and budding artists of all ages will be invited to add their brush strokes to “Paint the Montpelier Bird,” a popular activity that colorizes the two white statues of giant bluebirds.

A free classical recital by award-winning cellist Ismar Gomes will be heard in the center’s Main Gallery at 1 p.m.

The Mount Rainier Nature and Recreation Center will host a live animal exhibit in the animal tent, and a Botanical Scavenger Hunt, with prizes, will start at 1 p.m.

Makaila Carroll, 9, of Laurel, adds some brush strokes to a plaster bird at a past festival
Makaila Carroll, 9, of Laurel, adds some brush strokes to a plaster bird at a past festival (Baltimore Sun Media Group file)

On the lower lawn, kids can check out an abbreviated preview of the popular Blast-in-the-Past History Playground, an interactive summer display entering its eighth year that offers Colonial costumes for dress up and hands-on 18th-century activities.

The playground represents a marketplace, town square and farm where kids can milk a (pretend) cow, dig in the garden, push a wheelbarrow and grind corn with a large mortar and pestle.

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A story circle in the African American history area of the Blast-in-the Past Playground will be dedicated to the culture of Colonial blacks.

The restored house museum where George Washington and Abigail Adams stayed as guests in a bygone era will be open for free tours.

New entertainment to the festival will be performed at the following times:

11 a.m.-noon: The M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio will perform roots music in the Piedmont blues tradition at the music tent.

11:30 a.m.: Steve McDaniel from the McDaniel honey farm will present a lecture entitled “How Bees Make Honey” at the library in the East Wing of the Historic House.

Cellist Ismar Gomes will perform at this year's festival.
Cellist Ismar Gomes will perform at this year's festival. (Paul W. Gillespie / Baltimore Sun Media Group file)

12:30 p.m.: Donna Koczaja, of Prince George’s County Master Gardeners, will present “Growing an Herbal Pharmacy” at the lecture tent.

12:30 and 2 p.m.: Illusionist Phillip Jennings will perform “The Magic of Phillip Jennings” at the music tent.

1 p.m.: Ismar Gomas and Wan-Chi Su will perform a classical recital in the Main Gallery of the Montpelier Arts Center.

1:30 pm.: Cynthia Gossage will present “Upcycled Quilting — A Workshop for All Ages” at the Cynthia Gossage vendor booth.

2:30 p.m.: Linda Jones, from Elements of Nature, will present “Culinary Herbs: A Year-Round Pop of Natural Flavor” at the lecture tent.

3-4 p.m.: The Kentlands Community Foundation will perform “Kentlands Acoustic Jam” at the music tent.

Jamaican Country Kitchen, Country Concessions, Mike’s Gelato, Real Food Real Tasty, Samun Tea Shop and A Friendly Bread are some of the food vendors attending the festival.

The 23rd Annual Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Tea and the Arts takes place on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain or shine. Free. Montpelier Historic Site, 9650 Muirkirk Road, Laurel. 301-377-7817.

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