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Chippokes hosting war reenactment

Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry plans to host three Revolutionary War reenactments this month.

The events, which are the park’s first after reopening with coronavirus mitigation measures, are scheduled for Oct. 24 and Oct. 25. They will highlight how soldiers lived in 1781 and will feature cavalry and artillery demonstrations, along with a skirmish-type battle, the park said in an announcement. Guests can also enjoy the historic grounds of the park’s Jones-Stewart Mansion, talk with reenactors and shop with period-appropriate merchants.

“We have worked very hard to ensure that we are following all COVID-19 guidelines to create a safe environment for our guests to enjoy this family fun event,” Kevin Koons, the park’s chief ranger of visitor experience, said in an email. About 100 people are expected to produce the reenactment events.

The harsher side of a soldier’s life in 1781 will also be presented. “In an effort to keep the historic feel, living historians will be portraying camps stricken with a smallpox outbreak and keeping true to the harsh life of colonial soldiers,” the park said.

The events are scheduled to go on rain or shine but in the event of heavy rain, the reenactment battles may not take place. “Our reenactors will be using historically accurate flintlock muskets, which have elements that will expose gunpowder to the elements. If there is too much rain, the weapons will not fire correctly,” Koons said.

A free ticket is required for the reenactment events; there is also a $7 per vehicle park entrance fee.

Visit vasp.fun/prelude to register for free tickets or search “Prelude to Yorktown” on eventbrite.com. Time slots are limited to 120 guests. Face coverings will be required inside park facilities and when six feet of social distancing isn’t possible.

The main opportunities for park activities will be focused on the reenactment on the weekend of Oct. 24.

“Because we are limited to 250 people for the event, which includes staff and the re-enactors, we have to limit the number of guests allowed into the historic area of the park,” Koons said. “To ensure we can have as many guests as possible, we are also limiting the time to two hours per group.”

Because of time constraints, the mansion and Brick Kitchen will not be open to guests. Chippokes last hosted a reenactment on this scale last year as part of the park’s 400th anniversary commemoration, Koons said.

The last such event was on July 6 and July 7 in 2019, “which happened to be the anniversary of a small skirmish that occured on our property in 1781,” Koons said. “The skirmish happened in the morning of the 6th, which happened to be the same day as the battle of Greenspring across the river. With that in mind, our reenactors portrayed both the skirmish and the battle at Greenspring on the 6th, and then had another battle on the 7th.”