“The Market Fair – a time when citizens can buy and sell, eat and drink, play games and music, attend their militia, exchange gossip and news of the day and put aside the routine chores and cares of life.” The Claude Moore Colonial Farm hosts its market fair annually in May, July and October. The farm is forever frozen in the year 1771 and costumed interpreters abound. Follow dirt paths past tobacco fields, the tobacco barn, turkeys and pigs before you seek respite at the top of the hill where an encampment awaits to greet you. Sit by the fire, smell the freshly made coffee or take a nap inside a tent.
The Market Fair is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children and free for under 3 years of age. Parking is limited and we ended up parking quarter of a mile from the farm. I recommend getting here before the event opens to get a decent spot. Just a few steps further from the parking and you can smell the aroma from the market fair grounds.
After making our way into the fair, to our left we noticed Mother Cluck’s giant bake oven. Here you can purchase olives roasted with herbs. But my, oh my, next to that is a giant spit fire with roast chicken and pans of pork sausages. Perfect for a group of famished farmers and soldiers arriving to the area. The sausages are from a farm in southern Virginia and I was thrilled because they were a close match to my family’s native Irish sausages. To complement the chicken and sausage, you can add bread, cheese or pickles.
At the Shady Pig & Turkey Tavern, you will find sweet biscuits, rock candy, drinks and other libations. The rock candy was a popular treat with the kids, so much in fact, that they sold out. The Bakery stocks meat pies, sweet pies by the slice, potato pasty and fresh, crusty loaves of bread. Nearby a produce stall offers apples, cut-to-order slices of pineapple and freshly brewed apple cider. Prices for all food items at the market are economical at .50 to $5.00. Perhaps it’s colonial pricing?
There were approximately two dozen vendors selling dry goods like loofas and decorative plates, handmade soaps, capes for the ladies and tankards for gift giving. Watch a carpenter turn a piece of wood on a lathe and then purchase one of his beech tree creations.
A small crowd gathered around a merchant who sells “period cosmetics made using recipes from historic sources.” You can find everything from lavender water and tooth powder to wooden combs and clay pipes here. The most unique seller at the market were the gentlemen selling heirloom apple trees. There are was also a pair of geese in an enclosure though I’m not sure if they were there for admiration or to simulate a market sale.
One stall was designed for children with colonial games for sale. Just as demonstrated at the fair, you can buy a bag of wool or spool of thread set to practice at home. They also sell quill pen and ink sets, wooden swords or bow and arrow, tea sets and art kits. I couldn’t convince my creative child to get a soap kit, which gave you all the tools to make scented soap balls. It looked so cool!
For $1, kids can learn from their peers and make potpourri. My daughter loved the idea that she could make a natural product to help her grandfather sleep at night. She chose the cloth she wanted and used dried herbs such as lavender, rose petals and calendula. The costumed children showed her how to grate cinnamon to put the finishing touch on her potpourri sachet before tying it with a ribbon. Other areas of interest are candle dipping and making corn husk dolls. You can also watch demonstrations from the rope maker or blacksmith. The blacksmith was making leaves to create keychains. Children can forge aluminum minus the heat with help from the blacksmith’s apprentice.
Throughout the days there is a militia march, theater troupe, puppet show, auction, sack race and 3-legged races. We enjoyed live music on a small stage of a man playing a drum and tin whistle interchangeably. A small area has amusements like handball, a primitive see-saw and natural obstacle course.
Mid-day means it’s time for the auction. Items on the day we visited included pewter wares and gunpowder tea! Yes, you can actually drink it and I was told that it has a smoky flavor ha ha.
While I received a pamphlet upon entry, one thing I wish I had done was download a map of the farm. Our primary focus was to attend the fair and we ended up forgetting to visit the actual farmhouse. We plan on returning for the next market fair in May 2018 to eat, drink and be merry!
Photos courtesy of Kathleen Molloy.