Experience a July Fourth on the farm with event at Jarrell Plantation

July 4, 2014 

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Wayne Dobson, of Macon, reads the Declaration of Independence during an Independence Day event last year at Jarrell Plantation.

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What better place to celebrate America’s birthday than steeped in some of its history? Jarrell Plantation is opening its doors Friday and inviting guests to come and take a brief walk through America’s past. The historic site in Juliette is hosting a variety of activities and demonstrations that will entertain even the most modern of guests.

“Put on your red, white and blue, pack a picnic and spend a day on the farm,” said Gary Thomas, park ranger at Jarrell Plantation. “Our program on July Fourth attempts to re-create celebrations of yesteryear -- like a hundred years ago. We have games for kids. We have watermelon cutting and wood stove cooking demonstrations and samples.”

Operating for demonstrations will be the stationary steam engine, which used to operate the machinery on the plantation. There also will be a sample garden with sugar cane, cotton and the vegetables that used to grow there.

At noon at the Gin House Porch, where the cotton gin is, there will be a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

While the highlight of the day is often the games and the picnics, Wayne Dobson, who has officiated reading the Declaration of Independence in past celebrations, offered a note of seriousness to temper an otherwise festive day.

“The document penned on July 4, 1776, was a death warrant for some of those who signed it,” Dobson said. “It was quite a daring document. They were literally putting their lives on the line. They were going against the most powerful nation in the world at that time.”

The reading kicks off the games, which include a sack race, a three-legged race, an egg toss and other events.

“Or, if you’d rather, you can look around and see many of our exhibits and demonstrations like blacksmiths, steam engineers, quilters and all kinds of other people performing skills of the past,” said Thomas.

According to Jarrell Plantation’s website, the farm “nestled in the red clay hills of Georgia ... (was) owned by a single family for more than 140 years. It survived Gen. Sherman’s March to the Sea, typhoid fever, the cotton boll weevil, the advent of steam power and a transition from farming to forestry.”

Now, the plantation is open to the public from Thursday to Saturday each week and allows the curious to take steps back to the past.

“We have been doing this since the 1970s and this is really one of the best examples of Southern plantations,” Thomas said. “We are on the actual grounds and we have most of the original buildings and furnishings. It’s unique compared to many historic sites. The history of Jarrell Plantation spans over a century and the house was originally built in 1847 by John Fitz Jerrell. After John’s death, his son, Dick Jarrell, gave up teaching to return to the farm, and diversified, adding a saw mill, cotton gin, grist mill, shingle mill, planer, sugar cane press, syrup evaporator, workshop, barn and outbuildings. In 1974, his descendants donated these buildings to establish Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site.”

Ole Time Independence Day at Jarrell Plantation

When: 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. July 4

Where: 711 Jarrell Plantation Road, Juliette

Cost: $4-$6.50

Information: 478-986-5172

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