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Prince William Forest National Park celebrates fifth annual Heritage Festival
Step back in time at the fifth annual Heritage Festival.
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BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Many area families may be unaware that less than a half hour away lies a 15,000-acre unit of the National Park Service with pristine forestland, a fishing lake and pond, miles of hiking and biking trails, and a natural wonderland with more than 700 species of plants and hundreds of amphibian, reptile and mammal species.
This weekend, the folks at Prince William Forest Park reveal the treasure within that treasure--the rich history of the site.
On Saturday, as the park celebrates its fifth annual Heritage Festival, families can venture into the great outdoors and experience lively entertainment and activities including children's games and crafts, and woodworking, blacksmith and masonry demonstrations. The festivities will especially emphasize the history of the park from the mid-1930s (when more than 2,000 members of the Civilian Conservation Corps used materials found on-site to build cabins for a nature camp for urban youths) to the mid-1940s (when those same cabins were used during wartime as a secret spy training facility for the Office of Strategic Services).
"The stories of those decades of the park are fascinating and, for a long time, were relatively lost. So we wanted to create an opportunity to invite people in to learn a little bit about that early history of the park," said chief of interpretation Laura Cohen.
Harking back to his counterparts of the 1930s, a woodsman will demonstrate what is involved in creating hand-hewn logs--from removing the bark of a felled tree to using an ax to split the logs and a crosscut saw to cut them down. A mason will talk about the stonework and brickwork of the cabins and will offer live demonstrations throughout the day--building, dismantling, and rebuilding a wall.
An area with games and field contests will introduce youngsters to pastimes of an era where technology may have been minimal but interaction and fun was at a maximum, with games including red rover, potato sack races, and bubblegum-blowing contests, hopscotch, jacks and marbles. The Kids Kabin will be bustling as a craft center, where children can create their own candles and handmade soap to take home, as well as paper sailboats (whose seaworthiness they can test in the local pond).
What: The fifth annual Heritage Festival Where: Prince William Forest Park, 18170 Park Entrance Road, Triangle. (I-95 N exit 150) When: Saturday, Oct. 13. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost: $5 per car (includes all activities and crafts) Info: 703/221-7181; NPS.gov/PRWI