My daddy’s favorite holiday of the year is Independence Day. Before we moved to Appomattox to run our bed & breakfast, he would have huge parties at our house to celebrate. All two years I can remember, he would prepare way too much food and have way more people over than our home was meant to hold. It was great fun! We lived half a block from a park that set off fireworks, so we could watch them from our front yard. But amid all the eating, drinking and fellowship, he would make a point to ponder what the day really means. He asked all of our guests, “What does freedom mean to you?”, and we would think and talk about it for a while. Then we sang some of our favorite patriotic songs as the fireworks lit up the sky.
We no longer live half a block from a spectacular fireworks show, but there are a handful of nearby celebrations the likes of which could not be found outside of Virginia, the home state of more United States Presidents and Founding Fathers than any other.
Patrick Henry’s last home and burial place Red Hill is located in Brookneal, just twenty six miles from our front door. You can tour seven historic buildings, his grave site and surrounding grounds. As you might imagine, there rests the largest collection of memorabilia related to the man who gave the famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at the second Virginia Convention in 1775.
Red Hill is hosting Independence Day festivities from 3-9 up until fireworks start at 9:15. The entrance fee is $10/car. There will be colonial re-enactors, a recitation of Patrick Henry’s speech and tours. You can see the famous Osage Orange tree that now spans 85 feet, his home, law office and family cemetery. A visit to the beautiful grounds is sure to be a great addition to any visit to the Heart of Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson became a nearby neighbor of Red Hill after Patrick Henry died, though in those days they would have been several days’ ride from each other. Jefferson’s summer home Poplar Forest lies just on the other side of Lynchburg in Bedford County. It is a National Historic Landmark and an award-winning “Historic Restoration in Progress”. Used by him as a private retreat where he could read, study and think, our third President built a home much-fashioned after his famed “Little Mountain” outside of Charlottesville.
For Independence Day, Poplar Forest will be open for celebration from 10-4 for $9/person. There will be live music, period artisans and craftsmen, colonial militia and entertainment, archaeology displays, kids’ activities and a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
On July 3rd, enjoy music, games and fireworks at Wintergreen Resort just an hour north of us in Nelson County. On your way, don’t miss all the great wineries, breweries and cideries! Other celebrations take place at King’s Dominion, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Winchester, countless venues across the state. Click here to find one that suits your interests and don’t forget….if you are looking for a home base from which to travel all over the Heart of Virginia, the Babcock House in historic Appomattox is in the middle of it all!