Henricus Historical Park kicks off year-long celebration with Publick Days

Members of the Indian group Youghtanund were busy last week at Henricus Historical Park in Chester getting an expanded Indian village area ready for Publick Days. This year’s event on Sept. 18-19 will kick off a year-long commemoration of the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the “New World.”

Youghtanund, pronounced YA-TA-NUND, is a Powhatan word that means “the gathering place.” These Native Americans are involved in building the Arrohateck Indian village, which will consist of three Yehakins, or Indian longhouses, for an extended family; rebuilding armadas or lean-tos, fireplaces and hide frames and refreshing the planting area to include rustica tobacco and other native species. According to Margaret Carlini, education supervisor at Henricus, the Indian site, when completed, will be used for reenactments and Pre-K-12 and adult education programs.

“The entire Indian site is being redesigned, expanded and recreated,” Carlini said. During winter months during the “Year of Henricus,” the history programs will go on the road, visiting area schools. She said if it works, they will continue to do it in years to come.

Meanwhile, Publick Days has a lot to offer this year. According to Charlie Grant, acting executive director of the historical park, the event honors the founding of Henricus and includes living history reenactments, military drills and musket firings, craftsman and blacksmiths, 17th-century medicinal demonstrations, Virginia Indian activities, historical children’s games and crafts and storytelling, in addition to the experience of the Citie itself.

“Henricus Historical Park is an essential cultural landmark in the heritage and founding of the United States of America,” said Grant. “As a living history museum with period-dressed interpreters who offer hands on demonstrations among recreated colonial structures, we are uniquely designed to honor this important milestone in history.” 

In 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus.  Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe. 

According to information provided by the park staff, visitors to Henricus Historical Park are encouraged to step back in time and experience life in 1611 Colonial Virginia demonstrated by period-dressed interpreters. This year, a 17th-century ship replica, Phoenix, will be docked at Henricus on both days of the event.  The sailing vessel is meticulously detailed for the period and will be on display to the public for the very first time.

“Publick Days is the first event in a year-long celebration recognizing the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Citie of Henricus,” said Grant.  “We encourage the public to visit during Publick Days and come back throughout the year to learn about other significant historic milestones which took place at Henricus.”

This year, Publick Days will take place Sept. 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free and parking is $5.

For more information about Henricus Historical Park and the events planned for this year, visit www.henricus.org or call the park at 748-1613.


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