WHEN:  Thursday, July 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE:  Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest is located at 1542 Bateman Bridge Road, Forest, VA 24551-0419.

WHAT:  This year's Fourth of July celebration at Poplar Forest begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m., with fun for all ages. Children will experience 18th century life first hand by trying on reproduction period clothes, enjoying pony rides, and playing popular games of the time such as stick horse races, sack races, rolling hoops, and tug of war. See the action come alive through the recruitment and drilling of recruits for the Virginia Militia.

Celebrate the Spirit of '76 putting your "John Hancock" on the Declaration of Independence alongside the Founding Fathers.  Sign the Declaration, like its principal author, Thomas Jefferson, at Poplar Forest and become a part of history!

Try your hand at writing with a quill pen like Thomas Jefferson, then hear the stirring words of the Declaration of Independence read aloud from the South Portico of Mr. Jefferson's octagonal house at 1:30 p.m.

Activities continue throughout the day with:

  • A display of courage and comedy by Otto the Sword Swallower;
  • 19th century Italian street performances from Signora Bella including balancing acts, juggling and slack rope walking;
  • Performances by a costumed 18th century fife and drums corps at the military encampment;
  • Musical favorites from the Jefferson era courtesy of award-winning songwriter and performer Bob Zentz, and songwriter and early modern Atlantic World Ph.D. candidate Jeanne McDougall, as well as The Itinerant Band.

Visitors will observe period artisans and craftsmen as they demonstrate trades commonly practiced during Jefferson's time. Learn the medical treatments and practices used in Jefferson's Virginia from a "physic" and dentist. Also visit the kitchen in Jefferson's Wing of Offices to learn about the different cooking methods. Watch the potter shape his wares on the potter's wheel, view demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing and silversmithing practices, and enjoy historic, folk entertainment with bell playing and a marionette puppet show.

Learn the art of weaving baskets that were made by enslaved people during the 18th century, and listen to a presentation of traditional African folk tales and stories shared by the enslaved African-Americans of the plantation community. Talk with a Monacan Nation interpreter as she shares her knowledge and skill in demonstrating Native American crafts. Also watch interpreters demonstrate horn carving using tools and techniques common in the 18th century, as well as pouch making.

Hearthside Farm will demonstrate colonial life on an 18th century farm with soap making and sheep wool demonstrations. Talk with a spinner about the home production of yarn from wool. Also learn about the art of making homemade bobbin lace as interpreters from the Cardinal Lace Guild demonstrate this Jefferson-era skill.

Admission for the Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest Fourth of July Celebration is $8 for adults (Ages 16+); children under 15 are free. Face painting and silhouette cutting will be available at an additional fee. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Interior tours of Jefferson's retreat house will also be available for a reduced rate and offered throughout the day. Sponsors for this event include Progress Printing, The News and Advance, Blue Ridge PBS, Campbell Insurance, Coldwell Banker Commercial Read & Co., Realtors, Libbey Family Dentistry and Areva.

NOTE: Members of the media are invited to visit Poplar Forest and interview staff, vendors, artisans and the public about their activities. Please contact Kelcey Thurman at kelcey@poplarforest.org or (434) 534-8116 to arrange a visit or interviews.


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 programs daily March 15 through December 30, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Poplar Forest is also open for "Winter Weekends" mid-January through mid-March. Closed on Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For more information, visit www.poplarforest.org or call (434) 525-1806