POINT PLEASANT — Battle Days returns Friday and continues through Sunday, celebrating the region’s colonial history and commemorating the 242nd anniversary of the Battle of Point Pleasant.
The festival is free and takes place at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park.
Battle Days kicks off Friday at 7:30 p.m. with its lantern tour, taking visitors to different stations in the park and hearing from reenactors bringing to life Mad Anne Bailey, Chief Cornstalk, Daniel Boone, Gen. Andrew Lewis and others.
Ed Cromley of the Battle Days Committee, and the president of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, said the park offers history in practically every corner, which the lantern tour will celebrate.
Earlier in the day Friday, will be demonstrations of colonial life for fourth grade students from across the county.
Saturday will kick off with the parade that begins at 11 a.m. with lineup at Main Street Baptist Church. Businesses, civic groups, bands, and queens are encouraged to enter the procession. This year’s theme is “Point Pleasant First,” but if a group is not from Point Pleasant just use “First” in the theme. Cromley said the theme is inspired by Point Pleasant being the “first” battle of the Revolutionary War. Cromley said the parade is an opportunity for many organizations and businesses to reach more people and is free of charge. Jack Coles will be one of three men honored in the parade for receiving the highest award in the SAR this year as Minutemen. The Grand Marshal of the parade is President General of the SAR Larry Guzy. The fife and drum corps from Marshall University will be in the parade and perform immediately after at the park.
Cromley said though SAR and DAR members are a part of Battle Days, it’s open to everyone to travel back in time and learn about another era which shaped the country.
Saturday night the Mansion House will be open at 7:30 p.m. for “A Night with the Newmans” as reenactors step into the roles of the first owners of the house with other reenactors in every room, playing the roles of those living on the frontier in the 1790’s. Then, at 8 p.m., is the Colonial Ball at Sacred Heart Church fellowship hall in Point Pleasant which is free and open to the public. There will be a colonial band, dance lessons for those who want them and there is no dress code.
“If you want to do something and have fun, that’s going to be the place to be,” Cromley said.
When Sunday arrives, there will be a 10 a.m. colonial church service. Later in the afternoon, the festival will culminate with the memorial service at 2 p.m.
There will be over 40 organizations and individuals presenting wreaths at the service. Cromley said those presenting run the gamut, from local officials to those who had relatives who fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant.
As for how Cromley defines Battle Days:
“I think it’s a celebration of the independent attitude that we have as Americans and this year, particularly. There won’t be anyone kneeling (at the memorial service), we will be standing up for patriotism, we’re saying the Pledge of Allegiance and having the National Anthem, there will be a color guard with the American flag leading and all the state flags representing people attending.”
Cromley said this will be a “grand show” of patriotism, including a recitation of Lewis’ patriotic speech concerning his brother’s death. Cromley said the laying of wreaths all these years later is meant to honor the people who gave their lives to protect the frontier and how that battle motivated them to go ahead and “get the British off our backs and have the liberty we deserve as human beings.”
In addition, The Kitchen Table, a local organization which is affiliated with the Pleasant Valley Hospital Auxiliary, will be selling concessions with all money going back to community outreach programs.
A more complete schedule of Battle Days is as follows:
Events will kick off at 10 a.m. with the Mansion House Museum tours, crafts, encampments, and demonstrations. The museum will close at 4:30 p.m. Ending the evening will be the popular Lantern Tour starting at 7:30 p.m. at the park.
Festival resumes at the park at 10 a.m., with tours of the Mansion House, crafts, activities, and entertainment. At 11 a.m., the Battle Days Parade will roll down Main Street. The John Marshall Fife and Drum Corps performs at 11:30 a.m. at the park. The combined elementary school chorus will start singing at noon, and at 1 p.m. several events will start, including: Center Shot Ministries (Archery), a Chief Cornstalk reenactor, and Colonial Games (for kids); at 1:30 p.m. a Daniel Boone reenactor will be on hand along with a group playing era-correct music on dulcimers.
Also starting at 1:30 p.m. Randell Jones, a guest author will be making a presentation and will do a meet-and-greet with the public from 2-4 p.m.; Chief Cornstalk will return at 2:30 p.m.; and Daniel Boone again at 3 p.m. Then at 4 p.m. a performance by the Kootaga Indian Dancers.
At 6 p.m. there will be a Colonial Governor’s Reception at Sacred Heart Catholic Church for Sons of the American Revolution members only. The evening will end with the Colonial Ball at Sacred Heart Catholic Church from 8-10 p.m which is free for the public and open to anyone ages 13 and up. Colonial dress is encouraged but not required.
Outdoor early colonial church service at 10 a.m. at the park. Memorial service for the fallen soldiers at the Battle of Point Pleasant will start at 2 p.m. at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park. Speaking will be Larry T. Guzy, president general of the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution. NSSAR District Vice-President Generals, State Presidents and their Compatriots, Color Guard Units and DAR and CAR will be in attendance for this formal ceremony. The public is invited. There will be a wreath-laying ceremony during the memorial service. The Mansion House Museum will be open from 1-4:30 p.m. that day as well.
Though many argue the Battle of Point Pleasant was not “the first” battle of the American Revolution, many, like Cromley believe that it was, and for several reasons.
“It secured the Western Border but more importantly, militiamen proved their mettle and saw what they suspected out of the British leadership,” Cromley said. “In the Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war between Great Britain and us, it says ‘between the subjects of Great Britain and the citizens of the United States.’ Just think of the difference between being a subject and being a citizen.”
That difference will be celebrated all weekend long in Point Pleasant.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.