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Stafford prepares to mark its 350th

Flamethrowers. Marching bands. A special guest from across the pond.

All will converge on Stafford this coming weekend for the county’s first-ever Founders Day to mark its 350th anniversary.

“We are very pleased about opening Stafford’s doors for the Founders Day celebration,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Cavalier. “We have 350 years behind us to celebrate and our future is bright with possibilities. Founders Day is the perfect opportunity to showcase why Stafford is a great place to live, work and play.”

A parade, history square and a fine arts festival will headline the two-day event that runs Saturday and Sunday. The parade is only set for Saturday, while the history square and fine arts festival will run both days.

Festivities will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday with the parade. Running from Stafford Hospital to Brooke Point High School, the parade will showcase different chapters in Stafford’s history.

The lineup includes county high school marching bands, two World War II veterans, antique military vehicles, Miss Stafford County and a John Smith longboat replica.

Angela Loughran, mayor of the borough of Stafford, England, will attend the celebration as a special guest.

Her visit comes as her community reaches a milestone of its own. The Borough of Stafford is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its mayoralty this year, which will be recognized during the Founders Day festivities.

Stafford County established a Friendship Association with the English community in 1992. Since then, contingents from both Stafford County and the borough of Stafford have exchanged visits.

The history square and fine arts festival will continue the celebration at Brooke Point High School from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Both events will run from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

George Washington, who lived in Stafford from age 6 to 19, will make an appearance, along with Abraham Lincoln at the history square. The historic Chatham Manor became a Union hospital and headquarters during the Civil War. It is also known as the only private home where both Lincoln and Washington visited, according to the county website.

Appearances by John Smith, Pocahontas and the Patawomeck tribe’s Virginia Indian community will remind history square visitors of the county’s role in the nation’s history even before the county was established in 1664. Before 1664, Patawomeck and Manahoac tribes lived in the area, Smith explored the land and Pocahontas was kidnapped from Stafford’s Indian Point, county records state.

The history square will also feature a World War II flamethrower, 1812 cannons, dinosaurs of Stafford and a street-painting demonstration.

Prehistoric animals like the Sauroposeidon, the longest dinosaur in Virginia, lived in Stafford, according to the county website.

The fine arts festival features students’ art exhibits and student performances.

Parking will not be available along the parade route. Visitors may park at the satellite parking lots at the Stafford Government Center, Courthouse Road Virginia Department of Transportation commuter lot, Brooke Virginia Railway Express lot, Route 17 VDOT lot and the disabled parking lot at Stafford Elementary School.

Shuttle buses will be available to transport visitors from these parking lots to and from the parade and Brooke Point High School on both days. The shuttles will run from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

More details about Founders Day, including a map of the parade and the events at Brooke Point High School, can be found at Stafford350.com or on Facebook at Stafford County 350 Anniversary and Twitter @StaffordCo350. Interested individuals can also email info@stafford350.com for more information.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975

vremmers@freelancestar.com

 

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