Sometimes there's just not enough days to go around, but each week we'll give you an idea of something to do to relax, spend time with family or just take some time for yourself.This week, you can answer the question those living in this area may sometimes have asked themselves — who was Lord Stirling?
Although he sounds like a dyed-in-the-wool British loyalist, William Alexander, aka Lord Stirling, actually served with George Washington — and he lived right in Somerset County, in Basking Ridge.
Today, even those who have no idea of the name's origin are likely notice signs of Lord Stirling that are everywhere: On Lord Stirling Road in Bernards Township, at Somerset County Park Commission's Lord Stirling Park, at Lord Stirling Stable (where most ride English-style, thank you) — and even a school named after him.
This weekend, you can discover much about Lord Stirling's fascinating place in history and also back in time to the Colonial period of Americana at the Somerset County Park Commission's annual Lord Stirling 1770s Festival.
The festival is scheduled to take place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Sunday at the Environmental Education Center, 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge in northern Somerset County.
Each year Lord Stirling's estate at Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge comes back to life to evoke scenes that might have been here at this very spot in the late 1700s.
This year again, Lord Stirling will be joining visitors, responding to questions about his many business ventures and his successes in battle against the British.
Join him as he reviews his troops, visits with local craftspeople, tours his personal wine cellar.
The county park commission's 1770s Festival promotes historical and environmental education. It highlights the unsung Revolutionary War hero William Alexander, Lord Stirling, who lived on the site and served under General George Washington.
With re-enactors attired in replicas of 1770s clothing, visitors can meet a blacksmith, tinsmith, furniture maker, cooper, and other trades people of the times. Crafters make toys, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn.
Suggested donation is $5 per person. Although refreshments are available to purchase, no crafts are sold at this entertaining and educational event in the interest of providing an educational and enjoyable way to learn about Colonial times and the importance of New Jersey's role in the American Revolution.
Visitors can listen to Colonial ballads played on instruments of the period, visit the camps of Heard's Brigade, Captain John Outwater's Militia, and the Donegal Riflemen and watch as the militias conduct maneuvers.
Also on hand is a Colonial surgeon and a professional Town Crier who will read the Declaration of Independence.
Without charge, children can try stenciling, quill writing, making clay pots, and playing colonial games or petting goats and chickens.
A working cider press will show how cider was made and a hay wagon will take visitors for a ride around Lord Stirling's apple orchard. Dress the part by trying on period style clothing or spend a few minutes in the Somerset Gaoler's wooden pillory while friends and family take photographs.
Lord Stirling (the Scottish earldom and title acquired by William Alexander of Basking Ridge) was close friends with George Washington and served as a Major General directly under his command during the Revolution. Alexander built his manor house in Basking Ridge around 1762 and lived there for 20 years.
An archeological team sponsored by the Somerset County Park Commission excavated part of the site and has studied the recovered artifacts. Visitors can see what they have found on the site and hear about the history associated with these artifacts.
Part of the original Stirling manor house foundation still exists under the house now occupying the site. On this day of the year, as part of the festival, the cellar is open to the public for tours.
The 1770s Festival will be held rain or shine. For more information about the 1770s Festival call the Environmental Education Center at 908-766-2489 or Relay Service dial 711 for individuals with hearing impairments.
Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found on the Somerset County Park Commission website.