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Centuries past come to play in Beverly, W.Va.

BEVERLY, W.Va. — On your left, you see a World War II machine gun sputtering away merrily. On the right, you see antebellum ladies and gentlemen relaxing to a nice tea social. Straight ahead you see pioneers of yesteryear boiling something suspicious in a kettle. And around the corner, a stern-faced judge looks over his pince-nez to inquire whether or not you are aware of the meaning of “indecent exposure” since you appear to be shamelessly wearing a pair of shorts. 

The 13th and 14th of July, the Beverly Heritage Center will be hosting their annual Beverly Heritage Days. Themed Centuries of History, the event will celebrate culture, history, and heritage from 1750 to 1970 with reenactors from many time periods leading interactive experiences that allow visitors to engage in living history.  

Tied to this year’s event, the Beverly Heritage Center will also celebrate the launch of a new exhibit in one of their buildings, the original Randolph County Courthouse. Thanks to a grant from the Snowshoe Foundation, the Courthouse exhibit will feature a restored courthouse railing dating from the 1890s, two new artifact displays, and an interactive audio display which features sound clips from events that took place in the building. One of the stories visitors can hear about is the 1838 case of Lydia Ann, a formerly enslaved woman who petitioned to remain in Randolph County in spite of Virginia law prohibiting freed slaves from residing in the state. The Randolph County Court unanimously approved her continued residence here. 

The Courthouse exhibit emphasizes two of the primary goals of Heritage Days, inclusion and experiential learning. “History is not a spectator sport,” noted Christopher Taylor, the Executive Director of the Beverly Heritage Center. “Beverly Heritage Days has been happening for years, and this year’s programming will feature much of the music, demonstrations, and events people have come to expect. But we’ve also worked hard to ensure more hands-on opportunities for experts and novices alike. We don’t just want people to come – we want them to take part.” Visitors will be able to take part in scenarios such as a Civil War Hospital conducting an amputation, hunting for ingredients to make stone soup, experiencing Beverly under Union occupation, and games in the Town Square for children and adults. 

Beverly Heritage Days kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday with a History Parade. Camps from multiple periods with a variety of activities are open until 5 p.m. Saturday evening features Through the Centuries Dance with dancing from 18th, 19th, and 20th century, including live music by Gerry Milnes and John Rossbach. Come back Sunday at 10 a.m. for more hands on activities, culminating with the Stone Soup camp lunch at 1:30 p.m. For a full schedule of events, visit www.beverlyheritagecenter.org.

For more information about Beverly Heritage Days, you can contact the Beverly Heritage Center at [email protected], call 304-637-7424, or visit them at 4 Court Street in Beverly. 

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