Bath’s ‘Second Saturdays’ program celebrates freedom

Published 3:58 am Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

BATH — Quill writing, lively fiddle music and a recitation of the Declaration of Independence were all part of the “Second Saturdays” celebration hosted this weekend by the Historic Bath State Historic Site.
The event was the second in a series of three “mini festivals” being held monthly this summer at historic sites across the state. The program is a partnership between the N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources and the N.C. Arts Council.
Bath’s program this weekend had a central theme of freedom, according to Leigh Swain, Historic Bath’s site manager. Each historic site in North Carolina chooses a different theme, she added.
“Every site comes up with its own theme, so no matter where you go around the state today you would encounter different programs,” Swain said Saturday morning.
Bath resident Jimmy Edwards, in character as Benjamin Franklin, spoke to the crowd on the topic of freedom before reading the Declaration of Independence from the porch of the historic Van Der Veer House. Afterwards, fiddler Simon Spalding of New Bern entertained with a selection of music from the War of Independence era.
Freedom fights of a more recent nature — the struggles faced by African Americans during the Wilmington race riot of 1898 — were discussed by LeRae Sikes Umfleet, author of “A Day of Blood.”
Author Carlise Jones Carter read samples of her poetry throughout the day, tours of the 1751 Palmer-Marsh House and the 1830 Bonner House were offered and Historic Bath staff members taught children the art of quill writing.
A special treat was the opportunity to pursue North Carolina arts and crafts from vendors offering handmade jewelry, baskets, paintings, marbled paper, wood burnings, pen and ink drawings, pottery and weaving. Some vendors were from the Beaufort County area and others were visiting from Asheville and Pfafftown, according to Swain.
“I was very proud of our June event, in that it was all local artists and the Eastern Antique Power Association was here, but one of the goals of the Department of Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Arts Council is to get people to go to different areas of the state, so we’re glad to have artists from other areas this month,” she said.
Next month’s “Second Saturdays” program, planned for Aug. 14, will take a different twist, according to Swain.
“We’ll focus on how visual artists have captured history, even if it wasn’t their intention,” she said. “They might have just been painting a beautiful scene, but there are hints about the time period in the painting. Or they may have painted a building that has since burned down. Certainly photographers have captured history in their work, and even quilters have shared history that way.”
For more information about “Second Saturdays” or other programs hosted by the Historic Bath State Historic Site, call the visitors center at 252-923-3971.