June 21, 2011



Contact:   Elizabeth Sims

               (828) 777-9493




Experience Independence Day With An Authentic Celebration
At Thomas Jefferson's Private Retreat



FOREST, VA (June 21, 2011) - In typical American fashion, we have come to expect a celebration of our nation's birthday on July 4th as an extravagant display of fireworks, a neighborhood grilling party, a leisurely day spent on a lake, or perhaps a parade down Main Street.


But if we take a page from the author of our country's Declaration of Independence, the way to truly honor and understand Thomas Jefferson -- who composed our nation's famous guarantee of each individual's pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- is to spend the 4th of July at Poplar Forest, Jefferson's private retreat in Bedford County, VA. It was here that one of our most revered forefathers found contemplation, solitude and creativity. And it is here today that visitors can experience an authentic celebration of America's independence in the shadow of what Jefferson deemed his proudest architectural creation, the first octagonal house in the United States.


Poplar Forest is a little-known gem of American history, Jefferson's 4,800-acre villa in the Virginia countryside, where this important public servant escaped - often with his grandchildren - to live his life as a private person. His genius as an artist, architect, designer and ardent student of Classicism and Palladian principles is nowhere more evident than in his unique octagonal home, miles from a bustling Monticello and even further from the public life calling of our nation's capital.


In honor of the genuine spirit of Thomas Jefferson - twice President of the United States, renowned American architect, creative inventor, accomplished musician, avid gardener, proud father and grandfather -- Poplar Forest will host its annual July 4th celebration with activities, music, dance and craft demonstrations that are true to the home's historical setting.


The event begins at 11 a.m. with its signature event - a dramatic and stirring reading of the Declaration of Independence on the back portico of Jefferson's Poplar Forest home occurring at 1:30 p.m. Other activities and entertainment include:


  • Traditional musical entertainment from The Itinerant Band and The McKenzies;
  • Performances by the Virginia Academy of historic dance, a troupe of dancers who research, choreograph and perform dance from Virginia's early cultural heritage;
  • Marching music performed by a costumed 18th century fife and drum corps;
  • A thrilling show of comedy and courage by Otto, the Sword Swallower;
  • A hilarious 19th century Italian street performance of balancing acts, juggling and slack rope walking;
  • A display of Thomas Jefferson's Spirit of New London, a hand-crafted reproduction of a Jefferson-era bateau which traveled the James River.


In addition, children can step back in time, trying on period clothing and participating in old-fashioned games from the period, such as stick horse races, rolling hoops, tug of war, interactive storytelling and pony rides.


Crafts people will demonstrate historic methods of flax dressing, spinning and lace tatting. Native American crafts, pottery and blacksmithing will also be demonstrated and, new this year, experts will feature silver-smithing, coopering and hearth cooking.


Admission for the 2011 July 4th celebration at Poplar Forest is $5 for adults and all children under 16 will enjoy free admission. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Interior tours of Jefferson's house will also be available for a separate fee.


Poplar Forest is a National Historic Landmark recently added to the United States nominations to become a World Heritage Site. The property is regarded as an important example of historic restoration and archaeological research, and is open for tours, events and school outreach programs. Open daily March 15 through December 15, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving Day. For more information, visit www.poplarforest.org or call (434) 525-1806.