Things to do while in Williamsburg over Thanksgiving

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Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia November 26-28, 2009  Long before microwaves, electric stoves and refrigerators, food was prepared in clay pots and iron kettles over hot coals and preserved by smoking, salt curing and pickling. This Thanksgiving holiday, explore foodways of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia during “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia,” a three-day event November 26-28, 2009, at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center. At Jamestown Settlement, learn how food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and at sea by Virginia’s English colonists and Powhatan Indians. Visitors will be able to see venison, turkey and other game roast over an open fire, while stews of corn, beans and squash cook in clay pots in the re-created Powhatan Indian village. Visitors can learn how the Jamestown colony was provisioned by hauling cargo aboard re-created ships, and within the re-created colonial fort, learn about the culinary skills English colonists brought to Virginia, including the processing of an entire pig into hams and bacon, and the preservation of meat with salt. At the Yorktown Victory Center, learn about typical soldiers’ fare during the American Revolution and trace the bounty of a 1780s farm from field to kitchen. Among the highlights, visitors to the Continental Army encampment will see how soldiers turned meager rations of dried beans, salted meat and hard bread into nourishing soups and stews during the war, and on a re-created 1780s farm, witness the bounty of field and garden transformed into stews, pies and breads. Farm interpreters also will share preservation methods of the farm harvest for the long winter ahead. Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, except for Christmas and New Year’s days. A combination ticket to Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center is $19.25 for adults and $9.25 for ages 6-12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $14.00 for adults and $6.50 (6-12), and to the Yorktown Victory Center, $9.25 for adults and $5.00 (6-12). Children ages 5 and under are free. Food preparation in the museums’ interpretive areas is for demonstration purposes only. The Jamestown Settlement Café will offer a traditional Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 2009. The menu includes oven fresh roast turkey, homemade stuffing, sweet potato casserole, red bliss mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberry relish, assorted rolls and butter, a selection of fresh pies, and a choice of fountain beverage, coffee or hot tea. The cost is $11.95 for adults and $6.95 for children ages 12 and under, plus tax. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact the Jamestown Settlement Cafe at (757) 253-2571.

Berkeley Plantation

Plantation on the James River.

Berkeley is the most historic plantation on the James River. Visit the site of the first official Thanksgiving (1619), as well as the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison and President William Henry Harrison, our 9th president. Taps was composed here (1862) at the Civil War headquarters of General McClellan. Enjoy the 1726 mansion, an architectural gem with exceptional antiques. Five terraces of restored boxwood and flowered gardens offer breathtaking vistas of the James River. Costumed guides, museum and gift shop.
The original Georgian mansion, built in 1726 of brick fired on the plantation, occupies a beautifully landscaped hilltop site overlooking the historic James River. The date of the building and the initials of the owners, Benjamin Harrison IV and his wife, Anne appear in a datestone over a side door. The mansion is said to be the oldest 3-story brick house in Virginia that can prove its date and the first with a pediment roof. The handsome Adam woodwork and the double arches of the ‘Great Rooms’ in the mansion were installed by Benjamin Harrison VI in 1790 at the direction of Thomas Jefferson.
Knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides in period costumes conduct tours of the original 1726 mansion, furnished with a magnificent collection of 18th century antiques. The tour includes an audio-visual program and museum. The museum collection includes Civil War artifacts as well as a unique collection of paintings by artist Sydney King.

Explore the magnificent gardens and grounds at your own pace. Five terraces of restored boxwood and flower gardens offer breathtaking vistas of the James River. Benches are arranged throughout the gardens to sit and enjoy this delightful and peaceful setting.
Berkeley is open daily 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Last tour begins at 4:30 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

by Mark G. Stith
Sunrise and fresh-baked bread warm up a cool, crisp day at Colonial Williamsburg. The alluring mix tempts the morning’s first visitors to follow the costumed bakers to the Raleigh Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street (shortened to “Dog” Street by locals). There you’ll find baskets filled with goodness. You couldn’t ask for a more appetizing start to celebrating Thanksgiving’s bounty at Colonial Williamsburg.

Sobering current events at home and abroad renew and strengthen our ties with family, faith, fellowship, and national pride. Restore and rejuvenate those bonds by sitting down to lunch or dinner at one of the four dining taverns in the Historic Area.

All of them offer superb holiday fare, costumed servers, roving minstrels, authentic furnishings, and a pleasant atmosphere. Our favorite meal has to be the sumptuous offering for Thanksgiving dinner at King’s Arms Tavern. Start with cream of Virginia peanut soup, so rich, flavorful, and filling that they could serve it as the main course. But then there would be no room for the roasted young turkey served with giblet gravy, cornbread dressing, Carolina candied yams, and cranberry chutney.
Dessert can’t be any better than their warm mincemeat pie. But you might be talked into tasting their seven-layer chocolate cake. In recent years, the restaurant added wines from French vineyards visited by Thomas Jefferson. They’re not inexpensive, but consider the company. This special Thanksgiving feast is rather pricey also ($59.95 adults, $24.95 ages 11 and under), but you’ll get a meal and a memory that you’ll savor.

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