CHARLES TOWN — “Charles Washington’s Town” is the theme for this week’s Third Thursday event.
Organized by Discover Downtown Charles Town, the evening’s fun will be dedicated to Charles Washington, the founder of Charles Town and the youngest brother of the nation’s first president. He lived from 1738 to 1799.
Third Thursday also will serve will serve as a kickoff to a weekend of history-related special events as Charles Town holds its third-annual Heritage Festival.
Thursday’s activities start at 5 p.m. and will feature a number of free events, including live music and a Colonial dance workshop with Michael Barraclough. Anyone is welcome to come learn the Virginia Reel and other traditional dances on North Charles Street from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
On Charles Street, a free moonbounce will be set up on Charles Street from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Also on Charles: a free Betsy Ross-themed craft workshop for kids at the Discover Downtown Charles Town booth from 5 to 9 p.m., street vendors and more.
Third Thursday also will include a history-themed costume contest, with prizes in categories such as best Colonial costume, best historical character, best Civil War costume and most authentic historical costume.
Albert & Arnolds Wine & Cheese Shop will offer a free local wine and cheese tasting both Thursday evening and during Saturday’s festival.
Other merchants downtown will offer specials to those in costume or who mention “Third Thursday” or namedrop “Heritage Festival” on Saturday.
Some of the businesses taking part, according to DDCT officials, include Jumpin Java Café, Studio M Salon & Spa, Tiptoe Studios, Beasley’s Books & Eccentricities, So Angelina Homemade To Go, Sokel MakeUp & Skin Care, Mediterranean Café, Skippers Downtown Dips & Deli and the Washington Street Gallery & Visitors Center on North George Street, which has both a free art gallery and public restrooms.
Then on Friday, there’s the first performance of the latest incarnation of “The Anvil,” the 1961 play by West Virginia native Julia Davis that retells abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 treason trial.
The play begins at 7 p.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town, where Brown stood trial in the autumn after his failed attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry.
Performances continue at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m Sunday. Admission costs $15 for adults or $12 for those under 20 and over 60.
For tickets, call 304-876-1825 or purchase them at the Anvil Restaurant, the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Library, the Charles Town Library, the Jefferson County Historical Museum and Dish. Seating is limited; tickets are required.
On Saturday, the Heritage Festival starts at 10 a.m. and will include actors portraying George and Charles Washington available to pose with visitors and a variety of guided walking tours of downtown that will allow visitors to see the Jefferson County Courthouse (built in 1837) and the nearby site where Brown was hanged as well as the locations of structures dating back to the town’s founding in 1786.
There’s also an open house planned at Fisherman’s Hall, built in 1885 and used over the years as the area’s African-American community center.
Another popular fixture is the yearly Heritage Quest Historic Downtown Scavenger Hunt. The competition is available to individuals, teams and families. To register, email CTHeritageQuest@gmail.com or stop by Skipper’s Downtown Dips and Deli at 114 W. Washington St.
The heritage festival also will feature live music; kids activities; a corn hole tournament; a craft fair; a first-ever pie bake-off; and the day’s finale, a free concert with the band Touché at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Memorial Park.
On Sunday, the town has planned its annual Parade of Horses, starting at 2 p.m. downtown.
To learn more about the special events, email ctheritagefestival.com or find “Charles Town Heritage Festival” on Facebook.