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Charles Town celebrates its heritage

September 19, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- More than 1,000 people came out Saturday to celebrate the fourth annual Charles Town Heritage Day Festival.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and the 125th anniversary of Charles Town's two fire companies, said Bob O'Connor, chairman of the festival committee.

"The festival is tied together with the history of Charles Town," O'Connor said.

Craft vendors were selling their wares on Washington and George streets, and the Independent and Citizens fire companies were showing off fire equipment, including an 1872 steam pumper from New York state that the Independent Fire Co. purchased in 1885.

Face painting was popular with the children and many painted faces were visible around the craft vendors.

Addie Grove, 3, of Charles Town, had a butterfly painted on her face, and her brother, Blaise, 5, chose the vampire look.

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Their mother, Missy Grove, said the two will want to keep the face paint on "forever."

She said they attend the festival every year, but instead of working in her shop in town, "we decided to have fun and enjoy the day with the kids."

The Charles Town Historic Landmark Commission gave out two awards on Saturday.

Charity Beth Long, a member of the commission, said U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was awarded the Action Award for her local preservation efforts to include West Virginia in the Journey Through Hollowed Ground project that also features historic places in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

The courthouse in Charles Town will be part of the preservation project, Long said.

Maurice Palmer was awarded a Vision Award for restoring and preserving his 1850s home on Liberty Street in Charles Town, Long said.

Mark Cato, a vendor with Gingerbread Cottage Country Candles, said his business was steady and he was enjoying the day.

Cato, who lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and has a shop in Kearneysville, W.Va., said he likes attending festivals close to home.

Charles Town was founded by George Washington's brother, Charles. The Washington family owned 12 houses and seven are left in town.

Three of the homes -- Happy Retreat, Harewood and Cedar Lawn -- were available for tours, said Paulette Sprinkle, board member of the Friends of Happy Retreat and one of the tour organizers.

Wine tasting, box lunches and music were added to this year's tours, she said.

O'Connor said the festival is good for Charles Town "as long as the streets are full and people are buying and people can learn more about our very historic town."

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