The Mary Draper Ingles Festival commemorating the capture, escape and grueling return journey of one of Virginia’s most famous colonial heroines will take place July 29-31 in the City of Radford and surrounding communities.
This year’s festival features colonial period reenactors, old-time crafts and skills, an art exhibit inspired by Ingles and many children’s activities, including a petting zoo, at Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery. The historic Ingles Farm, which showcases a replica of Mary’s cabin, will be open for tours and talks by interpreters. Long Way Brewing, a craft beer company whose name is a take on the frontierswoman’s journey, will also feature live music, food trucks, a children’s play zone and a living history performance by West Virginia actress Karen Vuranch.
Born in 1732 to Irish immigrants in Philadelphia, Mary became part of the great westward migration of Europeans who pressed on through Virginia in search of affordable land and a better future. She and her family join an expedition that eventually settles on land in the New River Valley where she marries Englishman William Ingles.
Parts of the frontier are in the grips of the French and Indian War, and in July 1755 a group of Shawnees staged an attack, killing four residents and abducting Mary, her two children and sister-in-law. What follows is a month-long march over hundreds of miles through the Ohio and Kentucky regions until Mary decides to escape.
The story of Mary’s undeniable determination continues to capture interest more than 260 years later, resulting in numerous books, including “Follow the River,” a “New York Times” bestseller, and several outdoor dramas and movies.
Friday evening kicks off with the dedication of the Mary Draper Ingles Cultural Heritage Park that now includes native plant species, a bronze statue of Mary and a train observatory designed and built by Virginia Tech students and faculty. James Alexander Thom, author of the national bestseller, “Follow the River” is expected to sign books during the event. Long Way Brewing will kick off its celebration with the reintroduction of a craft beer named in honor of Mary, music and food.
Saturday’s activities will run most of the day at Glencoe, the brewing company and the Ingles Farm.
On Sunday, the festival continues at Wilderness Road Regional Museum in Dublin and will feature interpreters, live music and tours of the historic Ingles Tavern located on the banks of the New River in Pulaski County.
The festival is coordinated by Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery and is made possible in part by a grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. For an event schedule, go to www.glencoemansion.org or phone (540) 731-5031. Restaurant and lodging lists available at www.visitradford.com. For more information about the history of Mary Draper Ingles, visit www.marydraperingles.com.