Fall is a special time of year at Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean with the highlight a rousing Colonial Market Fair held in October. Fans of the living history museum that portrays a small, low-income pre-Revolutionary War working farm hope that this year’s Oct. 20-21 Market Fair isn’t the final one ever.
The Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm, the nonprofit group that has managed the farm since 1981, has been embroiled in a lease dispute with the National Park Service, which owns the land, and as it stands, the National Park Service says it will sever its relationship with the nonprofit on December 21, 2018 when the park shuts down operations for the winter. The future of Claude Moore Colonial Farm would then be up in the air when it comes to its April 1 re-opening date in 2019.
Save the Farm Banners Greet Visitors
The lease impasse is why families will spot “Save the Farm” banners at Claude Moore Colonial Farm this fall in addition to the traditional “Welcome to 1771” banners.
Claude Moore Colonial Farm is the only private-operated park in the National Service system.
Since Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a beloved institution in McLean, with generations of schoolchildren and families enriched by its living history educational programs, The McLean Citizens Association board of directors recently approved a resolution imploring the National Park Service and the Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm to resolve their differences.
These developments make this October’s Market Fair especially important. The Market Fair features entertainers, tradesmen, militia and other Revolutionary War ear re-enactors. You can watch blacksmith, cabinet makers and miliner’s in action. Colonial dancing and games can be enjoyed.
Food and drink from crisp apples to savory meat pies to fresh-baked bread can be purchased. There will be merchants offering goods at such stands as “Gentleman Goods” and “Dry Goods” so you can get an early jump on your holiday shopping.
Children can learn how to dip candles or turn a piece of wood on the carpenter’s lathe. Their parents can even enjoyed a cup of mulled wine at the tavern.
Market Fair admission is $8 for adults and $4 for seniors (60+) and children with those under 3 free.
Please note that while the farm’s address is 6310 Georgetown Pike in McLean, the actual entrance to the farm is located on an access road called Colonial Farm Road.
Direction: From the Capital Beltway (I-495) take exit 44, Georgetown Pike, Route 193 east, towards Langley. Go about 2 miles and turn left onto Colonial Farm Road. The farm parking lot is the third left off Colonial Farm Road. Proceed 0.8 miles. The farm gatehouse (entrance) is located on the left. From George Washington Memorial Parkway: Take exit for Route 123 south towards McLean. At the 4th light, turn right onto Georgetown Pike, Route 193 West then turn immediately right on Colonial Farm Road. Follow the remainder of the directions above.
The farm and Gatehouse Gift Shop are open through mid-December with a regular admission of $5 for adults and $3 for seniors (60+) and children with those under 3 free. The farm also has a book shop that is open to December from noon to 7 p.m. For more information contact 703.442.7557.
From Landfill to Living History
Believe it or not but Claude Moore Colonial Farm was once a landfill before the 77-acre site was turned into the living history museum that families see today complete with farm folk in costume and real crops of tobacco and buckwheat or rye growing in the fields.
Those crops, by the way, are planted and harvested with period tools and not modern equipment. The farm’s version of modern pesticides? The farm’s turkeys, who roam the fields, looking to snack on pests, much like they did some 250 years ago.
The farm has been home over the years from everything like Ossabaw Hogs to American Milking Devon cattle.
With an annual budget of $400,000 Claude Moore Colonial Farm has greeted more than 2 million visitors since it opened in 1973.
Claude Moore was originally called Turkey Run Farm when opened but the name was changed in 1981 to honor the late Dr. Claude Moore, who provided a matching grant to help develop the farm.
The farm’s educational programs include Farm Skills Program; Colonial Living Experience (weekend overnight program in which participants wear period clothes, cook open fire meals and sleep in tents); Environmental Living Experience; and Junior Interpreter Program (children ages 10 to 17 get to dress in period costumes and assist the staff in the upkeep of the farm).
There are also horticultural programs which students from nearby McLean and Langley high schools take advantage of with its 2,000-square foot year-round greenhouse and 500 square-foot potting shed/classroom.