365 days celebrating Fairfax County’s 275th anniversary

Rather than cramming 275 years’ worth of celebrations into one day, Fairfax County is making 2017 its own through a collection of commemorative activities.

Fairfax Courthouse
Photo courtesy of Fairfax Circuit Court Historic Records Center

This year, Fairfax County turns 275 years old, and the Fairfax County History Commission has chosen to celebrate by sprinkling a variety of activities across the calendar year.

The 365-day celebration, already underway, includes a lecture series at the Historic Fairfax Courthouse (through November); Channel 16 Fairfax history videos; a county history musical set to debut in July; a lecture from a descendent of Thomas Fairfax, the sixth Lord Fairfax of Cameron after whom the county is named; history bus tours; and, most notably, a signature commemoration event on June 17.

“A small group of people got together two years ago wanting to do an event to draw interest and recognition to all the local history organizations in Fairfax County,” says Gretchen Bulova, deputy director for the Office of Historic Alexandria, Fairfax resident and commemoration chair of anniversary activities. “There’s a lot of historical societies that, unless they’re in your neighborhood, you would never know existed. It’s a big area, and if you live on one side of the county, you may not know all the organizations that exist on the other side of the county.”

This seven-member steering committee decided that the 275th anniversary of Fairfax would be an opportune time to work toward bringing the county’s many historical organizations together. “We hope to draw awareness to the great things that these little groups are doing on their own and encourage people to volunteer to support these organizations,” Bulova says.

The free Father’s Day weekend commemoration event will take place at the Fairfax County Courthouse and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will kick off with an opening ceremony led by Nicholas Fairfax, 14th Lord of Cameron (who is also giving the lecture), and elected officials, who will dedicate a plaque honoring those who died in the Revolutionary War to the courthouse’s existing stone monument.

There will also be children’s activities, history booths, performances by local groups, a re-enactment of the secession vote of 1861 and a performance of an excerpt from the county musical. The Sheriff’s Department, a planning partner, is likewise celebrating its 275th anniversary.

“We could foresee doing something like this on a smaller scale on an annual basis,” Bulova anticipates. “This is not a one-shot thing; it will have some sort of legacy.”

Lord Fairfax
Photo courtesy of Fairfax County 275th Commemoration

Upcoming Anniversary Events

June 15, 7 p.m.: Lecture by Lord Nicholas Fairfax, 14th Lord Fairfax of Cameron
Nicholas Fairfax, 14th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and his wife travel from London to the Sherwood Community Center to talk to county residents about his family history. He will also discuss the repercussions of the Brexit vote.

June 17: Signature Commemoration Event
Numerous activities, an excerpt from the musical, food, drinks and performances by local groups including Emerald Society Firefighters’ Pipe and Drum Band, Singing Stars from the Sheriff’s Department, Fairfax Players, Mosaic Harmony, Gotta Swing, Bull Run Troubadours and 18th century acrobat Signora Bella.

July 1, 6-8: Complete History of Fairfax County: The Musical!
Four actors from The Class Act Players Theatre Company consolidate centuries of Fairfax history into 60 laughter-inducing minutes at the James Lee Center Community Theater. Scenes include George Washington’s secret love, espionage by Antonia Ford and the tale of Sadie the Cow.

Monthly Lecture Series, June 20: “History of Fairfax County Health & Education”
Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, health department director, will talk about Fairfax’s health history while Susan Gray, City of Fairfax Museum curator, and May Lipsey, Fairfax County history commissioner, will collaborate to inform the audience about the county’s education evolution. The talk will take place at the Historic Fairfax Courthouse from 7:30-9 p.m.

(June 2017)