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George Mason Day celebrated at his old plantation


Costumed interpreters will take visitors back in time to the year 1792, as George Mason Day is celebrated today at his plantation home, Gunston Hall in Lorton, Va. Mason was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which served as a model for the Bill of Rights.

Scenarios involving Mason, his family, friends, neighbors and servants will take place continuously from noon to 4 p.m. One scene portrays a visit to Gunston Hall by Thomas Jefferson that occurred one week before Mason died. They discuss Mason's accomplishments on the newly ratified Bill of Rights. You can also look in on a conversation between Mason and his son, who comes to ask his father's advice about a new business venture, or you can learn about 18th century medical practices as the family doctor ministers to various family members.

Visitors can participate in 18th century games and dancing on the lawn, take lessons in deportment and fan etiquette, or join Mrs. Mason for tea (reservations required). There will also be demonstrations of fencing, open hearth cooking and other routine household chores, and a sewing lesson. Crafts and barbecue lunches will be offered for sale.

Activities are included in the regular admission of $4 for adults; $3 for seniors; $1 for children; free for under 6. The grounds are open for tour from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gunston Hall is 22 miles south of Washington. Watch for signs from U.S. Route 1 or Interstate 95 at the Lorton Exit.

5) For information, call (703) 550-9220.

'Royal Ascot' at Winterthur

Another popular event today is the Winterthur Point-to-Point on the grounds of Winterthur Museum and Gardens in Winterthur, Del. Last year 13,000 people turned out for the event.

Gates open at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine, and festivities get underway with the tailgate picnic competition at 11 a.m. This year's suggested picnic theme is "Royal Ascot," which encourages spectators to dress in their royal best and dine on festive picnic fare. A large parade of antique carriages will travel from Chadds Ford, Pa., through the Brandywine Valley to Winterthur, arriving on the grounds at 1 p.m. Nearly 50 four-in-hand coaches, traps, phaetons, surreys, runabouts, gigs, carts and wagons from all over the country will participate. There will also be pony races for junior riders. Post time for the first of four steeplechase races is 2 p.m. The races conclude at 5 p.m.

General admission is $15; free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. Follow signs to the general admissions entrance off state Route 52. For information, call (302) 888-4600.

Mercer Museum Folk Fest

The Mercer Museum Folk Fest has received national acclaim for its effort to present authentic early American crafts. The festival is scheduled Saturday and next Sunday on the grounds of the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

Over 100 skilled artisans will display and demonstrate 18th and 19th century crafts, many of which relate to those on display inside the museum. Pioneer crafts, such as cooking in a squirrel-tail oven, stringing a rope bed, boiling soap or shearing sheep, will be demonstrated. There will be entertainment for all ages, including jugglers, a storyteller, folk music and dancing, a militia encampment, medicine show and quilting bee. Picnic basket lunches will be auctioned off, and traditional foods will be for sale.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults; $4 for seniors and children age 9 to 17; 8 and under free. Parking is available at the Fonthill Museum, East Court Street and Swamp Road, and a free shuttle bus will provide transportation to the festival. For information, call (215) 345-0210.

Hunt Country garden tour

The first annual Private Country Gardens tour in Virginia's Hunt Country will be held Mother's Day, May 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., to benefit Oatlands Plantation.

The five gardens on tour include Glenstone, a 1700s working farm in Aldie with a boxwood and woodland garden (recently featured in Southern Accents magazine); Willow Oak in Middleburg, featuring a formal Williamsburg-style garden and a water garden with cascading falls; Little Oatlands near Leesburg, with its 1-acre walled garden; a walled garden in Leesburg with waterfall and lily pond; and Oatlands' 4-acre formal English-style garden, including a reflecting pool, bowling green, terraced gardens and boxwood parterres and its new North Garden. All the properties are owned by patrons and board members of Oatlands.

Tickets for the full tour are $15; $5 for single garden admission. Oatlands is on U.S. Route 15, six miles south of Leesburg, Va. For information, call (703) 777-3174.

Mayfest in St. Mary's County

The Crafts Guild of St. Mary's County will hold a Mayfest Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Christmas Country Store in Great Mills.

Children can enjoy a number of activities, such as hands-on crafts, potting their own plants, storytelling,

face painting and horse rides. Music will be provided by the Over the Hill Gang and Senior Vibes. Clay works, collage making, plastic canvas art, wood painting, games and food are other attractions. There is a nominal charge for some events.

The Christmas Country Store is in Cecil's General Store on Indian Bridge Road, off state Route 5 in Great Mills. Call (301) 994-1770.

Herb Faire in Lancaster

The Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, Pa., will sponsor its 5th annual Herb Faire on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is Pennsylvania's largest heirloom plant sale, featuring all kinds of old-fashioned flowering plants and antique roses. A herbal marketplace with dozens of herb shops will also be featured along with slide-talks, a plant search, herb lore and food.

Admission to the sale is free, but there is a charge to tour the museum: $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for ages 6 to 17. For those who purchase a plant from the Seed Project admission is half-price. The museum is two miles north of Lancaster on state Route 272. For information, call (717) 569-0401.

Cranberry glades tour

The Cranberry Mountain Spring Nature Tour near Richwood, W.Va., has been attracting nature buffs to the cranberry glades for 26 years. The glades offer unique botanical specimens native to arctic bog life.

On Friday, visitors may attend slide-lecture programs at the Richwood City Hall from 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults; $1 for students.

The tours will take place Saturday at 9:30 a.m. from the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center on state Route 39/55, 23 miles east of Richwood. A total of six tours include a half-day tour of the cranberry glades, an all-day, seven-mile hike in the glade area, a High Rocks Tour with a panoramic view of the Greenbrier River Valley, an all-day tour of Beartown State Park and Droop Mountain Battlefield, a hike along the Highland Scenic Highway to a fish hatchery, and a 10-kilometer guided Volkswalk through the glade area.

The tour fee is $4 for adults, $1 for children 12 and under. Participants must furnish their own lunch. Refreshments will be available during the afternoon at the visitor's center. For information, call (304) 846-6790.

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