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Yuletide of yore

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Lois Huffman, right, and daughter, Tara Meadows , of Harrisonburg, look over a typical mid-1800s holiday dinner as Laura VanOrden, 17, a volunteer historical interpreter, describes how a family would celebrate the season during the Christmas on the Farm event held on the Bushong farm at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Charmaine Detrow, a volunteer historical interpreter, works on the Shenandoah Love Knot quilt during the Christmas on the Farm event held on the Bushong farm at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park on Saturday. The quilt will be raffled off during a drawing in October on next year. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Hunter Desper, 26, left, and Evan Hunsberger, 16, members of the Valley Pike Pipe and Drum Corps of Harrisonburg, perform music from the period during the Christmas on the Farm event held on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Molly Bivens, 6, plays with dolls and toys that were typical for children to have in the mid-1800s during the Christmas on the Farm event held on the Bushong farm at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Jessica Desper, 25, a volunteer historical interpreter, checks the fire during the Christmas on the Farm event held on the Bushong farm at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

Christmas on the Farm program recreates Civil War-era celebration

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

NEW MARKET -- A group of 10-year-old triplet boys have been coming to Christmas on the Farm for the past three or four years as a birthday present, according to Stacey Nadeau, supervisor of historical interpretation at the farm.

"We've kind of watched them grow up," Nadeau said, adding that people come to visit the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park from all over the world.

"Our visitation spans the globe," Nadeau said.

About 40,000 people visit the site every year, Nadeau said. For several years, Liz Willner, of North Carolina, has been one of them.

"It's wonderful," Willner said during her third visit to the Christmas program at the park's Bushong Farm. "That's why we keeping coming back."

Hannah Anderson and Laura VanOrden, both 17, also have made Christmas on the Farm a tradition. They get dressed up in 19th century period costumes and become part of the live re-enactment every holiday season, as well as during the year.

"We're wearing like six layers," Anderson said, laughing.

Anderson and VanOrden were among the dozens of volunteers strategically placed along the historic farm, where visitors could see what the holiday season was like for a family in 1859, during the Civil War.

"If you had lived here 150 years ago, what would you have done in the evening," Nadeau asked a group of children in the basement of the two-story house, where the Bushong family found shelter during the Battle of New Market.

"We would get together as a family and read stories," Nadeau told the group before reading Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," a popular novel of the time.

Afterward, the children played "Fox and the Rabbit," a traditional game from the period.
Children from Mary DeWald's home school group joined in. From Bedford, DeWald said she plans to return to the site with more students.

Nadeau said about 85 to 100 visitors came to the site this year, the sixth year for the Christmas program.

"It was a very good turnout for us," Nadeau said.

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