"Alice's Wonderland" is the theme of the 1991 Chrysanthemum Festival at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., a show that opened yesterday and continues through Dec. 1.
Lewis Carroll's classic tale is brought to life with scenes of topiary storybook characters sculpted from living plants and placed throughout the four acres of gardens. An 8-foot ivy teapot spouting steam stands at the entrance to the Topiary Garden, and visitors can look in on a maze of symmetrically clipped hedges and bushes. The stage of the Open Air Theatre is the arena for a chess game with topiary pawns, knights, bishops, rooks and a king and queen. Here, too, musical fountain displays are set off every half hour. On the way to the conservatories you'll pass a Cheshire Cat, and inside, amid the thousands of colorful mums, you'll find plants fashioned as the Duchess, two White Rabbits, fish and frog footmen, the King and Queen of Hearts and Alice stepping through the looking glass. Other topiary figures are the March Hare and Mad Hatter giving a tea party, an 18-foot backward-running clock and a caterpillar on the back of a giant mushroom puffing a bubble pipe.
Entertainment is planned throughout the festival. On weekend afternoons actors from Shoestring Productions of Brandywine Valley will perform scenes from "Alice in Wonderland," two magicians will offer their tricks and on Saturdays and Sundays children can make a craftwork to take home. On Nov. 23 and 24 visitors can join the Delaware Croquet Club in games of croquet.
There's also music -- strolling vocal quartets every Sunday through Nov. 24; a band concert on Nov. 2; the Delaware Youth Orchestra on Nov. 16; and three instrumental concerts on the final three days of the festival. On weekdays, lectures on various gardening topics are scheduled at 2 p.m., and Delaware Valley chefs will offer food demonstrations in the Ballroom Nov. 4-8 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission, including all activities, is $8 for adults, $2 for ages 6 to 14, free for children under 6. Longwood Gardens is on U.S. 1, three miles northeast of Kennett Square. For information, call (215) 388-6741.
On Dec. 4, 1619, America's first Thanksgiving was held on the shores of the James River, almost two years before the Pilgrim celebration in Massachusetts. The 33rd annual Virginia Thanksgiving Festival commemorates this occasion next Sunday on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation, site of the original event, in Charles City County, Va.
Over a dozen activities are planned between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., including an arts and crafts fair, encampments, Indian dancers, musicians and magicians. Food will also be available. Re-enactments of the original event will be presented at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. A living history group will perform historical vignettes with audience participation, and visitors can take part in the activities at six encampments set up around the grounds. They can join soldiers in a military drill or watch food being prepared over the open fire, as actors and 17th century musicians mingle with the crowd. An interfaith prayer service, a song and dance performance by the New Virginians and an Army Band performance are other scheduled events.
Tours of historic Berkeley manor house are included in the admission fee of $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $3 for children. Berkeley is on Route 5 in Charles City County between Richmond and Williamsburg, Va. For information, call (804) 272-3226 or (804) 320-0320.
Visitors from Virginia and its neighboring states return to Urbanna, Va. the first weekend in November for the state's official oyster festival.
Two tall ships along with oyster boats and various other water craft will be docked along Urbanna's waterfront. The tall ships will be open for tours both days. Throughout town there'll be arts and crafts, crafts demonstrations, food concessions, musical entertainment and a children's carnival. Live bands will perform Friday evening outside the firehouse following the fireman's parade at 7 p.m. On Saturday an oyster shucking contest will take place at 11 a.m. You'll find oysters served in every imaginable way plus other kinds of seafood as well as non-seafood fare.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Call (804) 758-5540.
Oyster Day, an annual celebration that pays tribute to the Chesapeake Bay Oyster industry, will be held Saturday at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
The museum plans a fun-filled day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be an oyster hatchery exhibit, hands-on demonstrations of oyster tonging and nippering, an oyster shucking demonstration, lecture and a film. Another event is the annual oyster shell skipping contest.
For entertainment, folk singer Mack Bailey will perform at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Oysters, prepared in a variety of ways, will be sold along with other foods.
Restored boats from the museum's collection will be open, and visitors will have the rare opportunity to go aboard and learn from interpreters about the life of the watermen during the oyster harvest. Among those open are a skipjack, a nine-log bugeye and a draketail built for oyster tonging. Mister Jim, a 51-foot replica of a Chesapeake Bay "buy boat," will offer 30-minute rides on the Miles River. "Buy boats" traveled the bay during the 19th and early 20th centuries transporting catches from workboats to the dealers on shore.
Oyster Day activities are included in the regular museum admission of $5 for adults, $2.50 for children, free for those under 6. For information, call (301) 745-2916.
The Navy Museum in Washington will host its fifth annual Seafaring Celebration on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year's free festivities will focus on maritime traditions and the 50th anniversary of World War II.
The museum is located in the Navy Yard at Ninth and M streets S.E., with ample space for visitor parking. For information, call (202) 433-4882.
The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Races will be held Saturday near Unionville, Pa. Gates open at 11 a.m. Preceding the races will be a parade of antique carriages, pony races, tailgate picnicking and an antique car display. The steeplechase races run on the flat and over timber fences, and begin at 2 p.m. Food will be available on the grounds.
Ticket prices range from $25 up and are by reservation only. Proceeds benefit the projects of the Exchange Club of West Chester. For information, call (215) 388-1604.
The Finnish Kipina-Kerho's annual Christmas Bazaar will be held next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the headquarters of Youth For Understanding, 3501 Newark Street N.W., Washington.
Ambassador of Finland Jukka Valtasaari and Mrs. Valtasaari will open the bazaar and guests will be welcomed by hostesses dressed in colorful native costume.
There will be a variety of Finnish merchandise for sale including Iittala glass, jewelry, textiles, handicrafts and food, an activities room for children and a cafe offering Finnish cuisine. Finnish-American musicians will provide entertainment. Admission is free. For information, call (703) 680-4838 or (703) 451-0036.