Belle Grove to hold weekend of events

Belle Grove Plantation will open its doors on Saturday as part of the Smithsonian magazine’s 12th annual Museum Day Live! and hold behind-the-scenes tours on Sunday.

Belle Grove will join museums across the country by offering free admission to visit the plantation Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Kristen Laise, executive director at Belle Grove, said about 50 to 150 people typically attend this event each year.

“We are hoping that those that have never had a chance to visit Belle Grove or who haven’t been in awhile might enjoy stopping in during the free day,” she said. “Belle Grove shows what life was like both in the early days of the Shenandoah Valley’s history and during the Civil War. It also explains the life of enslaved in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.”

At 1 p.m, author Barbara Frank will speak about her three historical novels, “Anna of Corotoman,” “Aggy of Zion,” and “Ferolene of Tincup,” which were partially inspired by the discovery of bills of sale for slaves in the attic of a Shenandoah Valley home. The books will be available for purchase and signing.

At 2:30 p.m. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Ranger Shannon Moeck will hold a 30-minute program, “Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse Into The Life of Judah the Enslaved Cook,” in the Belle Grove Winter Kitchen.

This weekend will also be the last two days the traveling exhibit of “To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade” will be on view at Belle Grove. This exhibit was created by the Library of Virginia with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been at Belle Grove since late July. In the same lower level room are six exhibit panels that discuss the ongoing research on slavery at Belle Grove Plantation.

From 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Belle Grove will hold a behind-the-scenes, family friendly, all-access pass to see buildings and spots around the plantation not regularly open to the public. Places to visit include the Plantation Office and Store, the 1918 Barn, Slave Cemetery, Manor House Attic, Historic Garden and Icehouse. Ranger Jeff Driscoll will lead visitors in Civil War drills and Ranger Shannon Moeck will speak in the Manor House kitchen about the life of the enslaved. Visitors are invited to move around the property at their own pace. Belle Grove staff and volunteers and national park rangers will provide presentations at each of the stops.

Laise said this is the second year Belle Grove will be hosting this behind-the-scenes event for the public.

“For those that have been to Belle Grove several times or who like to learn about more unusual aspects of the property, we hope they will come out to Behind-the-Scenes,” she said.

Tickets for Belle Grove Behind-the-Scenes are $20 per person, $10 for students ages 13 to 17, and for seniors 60 years and older. Children 12 and younger get in free. Belle Grove members will also be admitted for free and those who purchase their membership on Sunday can use this benefit immediately. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Light refreshments will be served.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com