Cedar Creek, Belle Grove to offer variety of August programs

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park have announced a series of events and programs honoring the history of the Shenandoah Valley. Included in the series will be the History at Sunset programs in addition to the park’s new Battlefield Series, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

The events are free and will last between 90 minutes and two hours.

Among the programs on the park’s schedule are a stargazing and meteor shower viewing on Saturday as well as a series of events scheduled for Civil War Weekend Aug. 19-21. Civil War Weekend will feature the work of a living history organization, which will be coming in to interactively communicate the park and surrounding area’s history.

Eric Campbell, chief of interpretation for the park, explained the variety of programs.

“We have programs concentrated on specific events related to the battle of Cedar Creek.” Campbell said. “For those interested in the Civil War, they (certain programs) are concentrated on one unit or battle of the war. We have Civil War “soldier for an evening.” We take visitors and we form a Civil War company and give them wooden rifles and put them through drill and they can see how life was for a Civil War soldier. … We’ve got all kinds of different events happening. We try to offer a variety of events for the different types of visitors we get.”

Campbell said he’s especially looking forward to the stargazing program.

“I think the stargazing party is going to be pretty spectacular,” he said. “This (meteor shower) happens every year when this comet goes by – the Swift-Tuttle – and they’re saying that this is supposed to be the strongest shower we’ve had in a while if the weather cooperates. … Shannon Moeck will be leading the stargazing party. She’ll be working with the Shenandoah Astronomical Society.”

Campbell said that while the park’s Civil War history is a large draw, there are also guests who aren’t necessarily interested in the Civil War.

“Certainly the Civil War history is a large part of what we talk about but we do more than just that,” Campbell said. “Some visitors don’t care about the Civil War as much as they care about earlier history.We have other non-traditional programs for historic parks like our stargazing party – we’re trying to promote the night sky and alternate uses of the park.”

Belle Grove will also be home to a wine festival on Aug. 27, said Campbell.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com