young George WashingtonGeorge Washington was only 21 years old when Virginia’s lieutenant governor sent him on a dangerous mission to the Ohio Valley to essentially tell French settlers there to get out and stay out. (This mission sparked the French & Indian War and led Washington to write a memoir that would make him a celebrity in both America and Great Britain.)

To accomplish the mission, young Washington had to traverse rugged, mountainous terrain, negotiate with Indian tribes and navigate through ice-clogged waters and heavy snowstorms.

This gripping true-life adventure tale will be brought to life on the grounds of Washington’s boyhood home during this year’s Fourth of July at Ferry Farm.

Ferry Farm specializes in helping kids and adults alike engage their imaginations to revisit the 18th-century world Washington grew up in. July 4 at Ferry Farm has become a tradition, filled with opportunities for kids and parents to get away from electronic devices and to explore an earlier era of technology.

Stafford’s Patawomeck Indian Tribe will let visitors try their hand at corn-grinding in the pre-Cuisinart era. They’ll also demonstrate the making of dugout canoes.

The Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers Guild will provide an opportunity to spin cotton into yarn, and to see how that yarn is woven to make cloth.

July 4 at Ferry Farm

A series of dramatic presentations running throughout the day will teach visitors about various moments in Washington’s young life, and other activities—like designing a patriotic hat, navigating a straw bale maze or signing a replica Declaration of Independence—will keep multiple generations engaged.

New this year is an activity called, “George’s Western Adventure,” that teaches young people about the skills Washington had to call upon to survive his journey to confront the French in the Ohio Valley. 

“How did he survive? That’s what this is all about,” said Ferry Farm Director of Education Alma Withers.

Participants will learn about four different types of campfire design and try their hand (under supervision) at creating a spark with flint and steel. They’ll be asked to engage their five senses in an observation activity that teaches about how part of Washington’s mission back in 1753 was to gather intelligence on the French. They’ll also learn about the critical art of raft-building, and will get to try to build a raft out of leaves and sticks and then see whether it will float in a washtub of water.

“It’s very active,” Withers said. “It’s really an opportunity for children to learn a whole other way of life.”


The Fourth of July at Ferry Farm runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and in addition to these activities, visitors can see a flag retirement ceremony at 1 p.m., talk to archaeologists about discoveries that have been made on the grounds and purchase food from Beach Fries, Chick Fil A and Sweet Frog. Admission is $1, ages 2 and under free, and the event is alcohol-free.

Visitors on the Fourth can also learn about what it would have taken to build the Washington family home at Ferry Farm in the 1700s, as Ferry Farm prepares to build a replica of that home at the property.

Craftsmen will teach visitors about masonry, blacksmithing, timber hewing and other building techniques of the period. Interested in learning more? Make plans to attend one of two events focused on “Building George’s House” that will take place June 27 and July 25 at Ferry Farm. Find full details here.

Consider a visit at any time this summer to George Washington’s Ferry Farm. From the summer garden to the wild meadow to the indoor exhibits and archaeological findings, it’s a great way to engage everyone in your family. 

Last Updated:
December 14, 2018