Van Cortlandt Manor is welcoming spring by offering visitors a chance to try their hands at more than a dozen colonial-era tasks during “Hands-On Heritage Crafts” on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6. This is the kickoff event for the 2008 season of Historic Hudson Valley, a non-profit network of living history museums.
The gardens, grounds, and buildings of Van Cortlandt Manor will be bustling with activity as visitors are encouraged to learn about the traditional activities of the 18th century in an interactive way. Each activity is presented by guides wearing clothing of the period. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.
Visitors can help make candles, churn butter, create cheese, and stitch brooms. They can also try their hands at coopering (barrel making), wool dyeing and spinning, shoe making, tinsmithing, flax breaking and spinning, quilting, weaving, and open-hearth cooking.
Particularly popular with youngsters is the chance to help Van Cortlandt Manor’s blacksmith forge iron hooks and other items.
Children can also sew a bag designed to hold medicinal herbs and then have it filled with dried botanicals in the manner of the 18th century. One example is a “sleep bag,” which is filled with a mixture of rose petals, mint leaves, and cloves, and was used by early Americans as a cure for insomnia.
“Just like it is today, springtime was a joyous but busy part of the year for the 18th-century American,” said Althea Corey, site director of Van Cortlandt Manor. “Our museum community welcomes the opportunity to share these early-American skills with visitors.”
The weekend also features a small farmer’s market, with local artisans selling honey and maple products, an assortment of pickles, relishes, mustards, jams, and cheese.
Admission to Van Cortlandt Manor is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; $6 for children 5-17; and free for children under 5 and HHV members. Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525 South Riverside Avenue (off Route 9) in Croton-on-Hudson. Take the Croton Point Avenue exit from Route 9 and follow the signs. The museum is open daily from 10-5 except Tuesdays. For information more information, please call 914-271-8981 or visit www.hudsonvalley.org.