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By Preston Knight - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- With the grand opening of the Hupp's Hill Civil War Park scheduled for Saturday, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation has finished its work turning old into new.
The park, which can be visited for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, features a museum with 1860s artifacts, displays, books and a 30-seat theater, refurbished walking trails and a pair of cannons that will have hourly demonstrations.
It is the former site of the Stonewall Jackson Museum, at 33229 Old Valley Pike, and is being leased from the Bernstein Family Foundation. The Strasburg Town Council is scheduled to vote on a memorandum of understanding about also operating a visitor's center there next week.
Foundation President Tim Stowe said the opening weekend will kick off during an invitation-only event Friday night that includes cannons firing. The proverbial fireworks will just about be non-stop from there as officials seek to tell not only Cedar Creek's story, but that of the 1864 Valley Campaign.
"That's our passion," Stowe said of Cedar Creek, "but we think it's important to tell the whole story."
The park will be open 1-4 p.m. on Sundays for $5 admission, and then 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Wednesdays and Thursdays, he said. Stowe said the foundation's headquarters in Middletown, next to the battlefield, will remain open.
Strong interest from people wanting to volunteer and loan items to display has made the past year of getting the project complete more enjoyable, Stowe said. He did not have a cost total, but added that donations are still being accepted.
By design, timing of the opening coincides with the war's sesquicentennial and leads up to Strasburg's Great Train Raid re-enactment on May 29.
"We think that's a very important aspect," Stowe said.
Nick Picerno, chairman of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation's board of trustees, is the scheduled emcee for Friday's event. He said Hupp's Hill will demonstrate the value of heritage tourism and become an important visitor destination.
"I believe this is an exciting endeavor taken on by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation," he said in a prepared statement. "As we are engaged in the sesquicentennial of the Civil War it is important to educate and interpret the Shenandoah Valley campaign."