Provided by Town of Dumfries
The Town of Dumfries holds the distinguished honor of being the oldest-chartered town in Virginia. In colonial days, Dumfries was a major port town bustling with activity from the thriving tobacco trade and the center of commerce, society, and politics in Prince William County.
“The history of our town’s charter is an example of how little politics have changed,” said Karleen Kovalcik, Executive Site Manager of Historic Dumfries Virginia, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Dumfries. “Dumfries’ colonial leaders repeatedly attempted to obtain an official charter for their town but were stymied by local politics for years. On May 11, 1749, we beat Alexandria and Colchester to the punch and received the first town charter in what was at that time the Colony of Virginia.”
In recognition of its historical heritage, the Town of Dumfries hosts an annual commemorative event. Dumfries Charter Day will be held on Saturday, May 12 from 11:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. in Merchant Park located at Duke and Cameron Streets in Dumfries. “We expect a crowd at this free event because it will be a family pleaser with delights for the young, old, and everyone in between,” said Yvette Ragland, Town of Dumfries Event Coordinator. “The kids will love the bounce house and playing with old-fashioned colonial games, while the grown-ups will really enjoy the Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps performance and learning more about our local history.”
A formal ceremony will be held at 11:00 a. m. at the William Grayson Memorial Bandstand with the Presentation of Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance by the Quantico JrROTC Cadets and remarks from Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman. A schedule of musical and dance performance will follow the opening ceremony and conclude at 4:00 p. m. Food and craft vendors, living history demonstrations, children’s activities, raffles, and informational tables on local resources and historical organization will be open throughout the event.
Merchant Park is the long-time home of the Weems-Botts Museum, which will be free and open to the public during the event. “We really emphasized living history this year,” Ms. Kovalcik said. “For the first time at Charter Day, there will be costumed interpreters inside the museum playing historical vignettes. Visitors will even have a chance to chat with Parson Weems himself, the man who authored the story of George Washington cutting the cherry tree and prior owner of the house.”
For information on the event, please call Dumfries Town Hall at (703) 221-3400. For more information on Dumfries’s history and driving directions, please contact Historic Dumfries Virginia at (703) 221-2218 or visit historicdumfriesva.org.