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Festivals and fireworks celebrate the Fourth of July


Get ready for a bang-up weekend as Fourth of July celebrations crowd the calendar. Some of the biggest and the best celebrations of the summer are scheduled over the holiday weekend. Three of them are in Pennsylvania. The Kutztown Folk Festival opens July 1 at festival grounds in Kutztown for nine days of family activities and fabulous food.

Through its many stage programs, the festival provides opportunities to discover the culture and lifestyles of the Pennsylvania Dutch. There will be presentations about the Mennonite religion and its many different sects; one on Pennsylvania Dutch humor; and one on snake lore. Elsewhere you'll see a re-enactment of an Amish wedding, an early church, a one-room schoolhouse and barnyard activities, and you'll learn the secrets of a successful kitchen garden.

There will also be more than 200 crafts people demonstrating 19th-century skills, plus sheepshearing and glass blowing, a huge display of quilts for sale, children's games and puppet shows, a hoedown stage, music and Pennsylvania Dutch foods.

Festival grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for children under 12. Parking on the grounds costs $2. For more information, call (610) 683-8707.

Civil War remembrances

The 13th annual Civil War Heritage Days in Gettysburg, Pa., began yesterday and continues through July 9. It has again been listed by the American Bus Association among its top 100 events in North America. The festival, which this year has expanded to 16 days, is held in conjunction with the 132nd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

This year, three separate companies are producing battle re-enactments:

On July 1-2, Gettysburg Living History Inc. will present re-enactments at Herrs Ridge, one mile west of town on U.S. 30, where the battle actually started; and Battleground Inc. will present re-enactments on Pumping Station Road in Gettysburg. Both productions will involve between 1,500 and 2,000 re-enactors, with cavalry units and cannons of the period. A third production by Civil War Re-Enactments Inc. is scheduled in nearby Fairfield, Pa., July 8-9.

Other attractions include a living-history encampment, band concerts, an evening lecture series, the Gettysburg Firemen's Festival, the Mason-Dixon Civil War Collector's Show, a book fair, Civil War train raids, a Fife and Drum weekend and fireworks. Call (717) 334-6274.

Philadelphia entertainment

Another star-studded celebration is under way in Philadelphia. The SUNOCO Welcome America Festival opened yesterday and continues through July 4 with more than 50 free events. Entertainment has been scheduled by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Beach Boys, Donna Summer, Chubby Checker, the Mummers and many others.

Here are some of the highlights: the Great Gospel Gathering at the Pennsylvania Convention Center today from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; a Native American Celebration at Penn's Landing tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Market Street Fun Fest featuring Chubby Checker from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday; four stages of entertainment with free activities inside and outside the museums and along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, including a laser show with fireworks from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday; the Summer Mummers Parade from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday on Market Street; Kids Day with mimes, stilt-walkers, jugglers and main-stage performances from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Penn's Landing; a giant block party with entertainment on four stages at Center City from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and a lighted boat parade and concert at night.

Also: Prudential Delaware River Days, a three-day festival with food and entertainment for the whole family, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 2-4 at Penn's Landing, celebrating the Fourth of July and the opening of the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing. Events include a concert headlined by Donna Summer and fireworks from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. July 3; and, on July 4, Independence Day ceremonies and presentation of Liberty Medal at 10 a.m. A parade at 6 p.m. will be followed by a concert featuring the Beach Boys and the Philadelphia Orchestra on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, concluded by fireworks. For information, call (800) 770-5883.

Folklife festival

Hordes of visitors will descend on the nation's capital to take part in the Fourth of July celebrations and to attend the Festival of American Folklife. Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service, the festival takes place on the National Mall between 10th and 14th streets over two weekends. It opened on Friday and runs through Tuesday and resumes next weekend, from June 30 through July 4.

This year's festival programs focus on the cultures of Cape Verde, an island nation off the coast of West Africa; the Czech Republic; women singers and musicians from 20 different Native American groups; and Russian sacred and secular songs presented by Russians and Americans of Russian descent. The programs include craft demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, storytelling, music and dance.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. In the evening there are dance parties featuring traditional music from 5:30 to 7 and concerts featuring musicians from festival programs every night (except July 4) from 7 to 9. Festival food services remain open during these activities. Admission is free. For information, call (202) 357-2700.

Fun on the farm

For a family outing with old-fashioned fun, a good choice is the holiday celebration at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster from noon until 9 p.m. July 1.

Here you'll find old-time activities like three-legged and sack races, patriotic music, picnicking on the lawn, entertainment, craft vendors and fireworks. Entertainment begins on the farm stage at 12:30 p.m. and features a variety of sounds -- country, Irish-American, bluegrass, and pipes and drums -- as well as cloggers and a vaudeville act. A fashion show featuring men's and women's clothing of the 1800s will be presented in the museum's flower and herb garden, and the farmhouse will be open for tours. The day concludes with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults; $2 for ages 7 to 18 and 60 and over; free for under 6. For information, call (410) 876-2667.

Four on the Fourth

Annapolis is the only town from the time of the original 13 Colonies to have four preserved homes once owned by signers of the Declaration of Independence. On July Fourth these four men, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Samuel Chase, William Paca and Thomas Stone, portrayed by interpreters, will welcome the public into their gardens, all located in the town's historic district, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

An "Annapolis 300" button, which costs $8 for adults, $16 for families, provides admission to all four gardens and is available at any of the sites. For information, call (410) 267-7619.

President's plantation

"Plantation Days" will be held at President James Monroe's 535-acre estate outside Charlottesville, Va., July 1-2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The grounds will be filled with costumed crafts people, soldiers, musicians and others who would have been on the scene in the 1800s. The First Virginia Regiment will set up camp on the grounds and be engaged in camp cooking, drilling and other duties. An interpreter will give a series of first-person presentations as one of Monroe's slaves. Visitors can also learn Scottish dancing, play 19th-century games and join activities like soap making and candle dipping. There will be tours of the house, and food can be purchased on the grounds.

Admission is $8 for adults; $7 for 60 and over and $4 for under 12. Ash Lawn-Highland is on the James Monroe Parkway (county Route 795) near I-64 and U.S 250, 2 1/2 miles southeast of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. For information, call (804) 293-9539.

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