Historic Activities

Historic Activities are at both Downtown and at the Fort Site Saturday & Sunday

Downtown Sunday Activities include the Historical Church Service Re-enactment, Family Social, Food & Craft Vendors and Bradford House Museum Tours.

Join the Rebellion and experience life on the Pennsylvania frontier during the time of the Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794). History comes alive through re-enactments, demonstrations, exhibits, historic house tours and lively street theater throughout the day on Saturday. These activities are vividly portrayed throughout the festival grounds at the David Bradford House, the LeMoyne House and LeMoyne House gardens, the Main Festival stage, Frontier Fort site at Washington Park, and on Main Street itself. Take in a broader view of historic downtown Washington, with tours of the Washington County Courthouse, and a Presidential Walking Tour of sites where 15 U.S. Presidents actually visited “Little Washington”. Relive the days of the rebellion, as the fiery speeches of the rebels and the fiery response of the Federals bring the historic street theater to a dramatic conclusion you won’t want to miss!

Historical Street Theatre
Saturday Only

Each year, we bring to the streets of Washington historical re-enactments from the years 1791-1794. While the scenes depicted are not of actual historical events they are representative of the sequence of events and, more importantly, the strong sentiments of the time.

Every year we stage entirely new theatrical performances, so you’ll see something new every time you attend the festival. The main characters you see on the streets are portraying actual historical figures. They will be on festival grounds throughout the day. Should you encounter them, please feel free to talk with them and ask questions. Enjoy!

The Bradford House Museum Tours
Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday

Tour the Bradford House Museum, a National Historic Landmark, home of the Whiskey Rebellion. David Bradford was a successful lawyer, businessman, the Deputy Attorney General of Washington County and a leader of the Whiskey Rebellion. Construction of his house on South Main Street was completed in 1788. His home reflected his high social standing, not only by its size, but also by its fittings. The magnificent mahogany staircase and the interior wood finishes show remarkable craftsmanship. The stone for the exterior was quarried near Washington, while the interior decorations came from the east and had to be transported across the mountains at great expense. It was, and still is, an 18th-century architectural showpiece. This was all the more striking at the time because Washington consisted largely of small, rustic log buildings.

After the parade and before the tar and feathering at 5:00PM, step back in time and enjoy a walk through the first floor to see docents dressed in period attire. (Free full self guided house tours will be offered on Thursday and Friday from 3:00 – 6:00PM and Sunday noon to 3:00PM)

On Saturday, see a cooking demonstration in the kitchen cabin, using open hearth cooking techniques. Behind the Bradford House join our farmer-distiller and see how whiskey was made during the Whiskey Rebellion. Get a close-up view of an actual antique still similar to the ones used on the frontier, talk with the farmer and learn how they turned grain into whiskey. However be careful not to ask about Hamilton’s Whiskey Tax.

The Hangman's Tavern
Saturday & Sunday

The Kennedy Log House in Washington Park is transformed into the Hangman’s Tavern, Van Swearigen Proprietor, on Saturday and Sunday from 11AM – 4PM. Come sample 18th-century tavern drinks such as Spiced Whiskey and the Hangman’s Punch (with non-alcoholic versions for kids). See fireside cooking demonstrations using squirrel forks and reflector ovens.  View and buy the fares of artisans such as The Wilde Celt Forge, Old Plank Forge, Hearth Fare Goods, and the Red Lady Bakery. Stay and hear the story of the how the Hangman’s Noose got its name.  Experience a tavern with all the flare of the 18th-century.

The LeMoyne House Tours - Washington County Historical Society
Saturday Only

The LeMoyne House is Pennsylvania’s first National Historic Landmark of the Underground Railroad. Only a few other such sites exist. The stately stone house, located at 49 East Maiden Street in downtown Washington, Pennsylvania, was built in 1812 by John Julius LeMoyne, the father of Francis Julius LeMoyne. Both father and son were practicing physicians, but it was the courageous Francis Julius LeMoyne who, despite the strict Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, risked his personal freedom and fortune to do what he knew was morally right — take a stand against the institution of slavery. This successful 19th Century doctor, reformer and builder of the first crematory in the western hemisphere, opened his home and properties as stops along the Underground Railroad, the series of safe hiding places for runaway slaves as they trudged north on their precarious journey to Canada and freedom.

Visit Schneider's Fort in Washington Park
Saturday & Sunday, Activities May Vary Each Day

Fort Site Activities – 11AM – 5PM, Each Day

This faithful reproduction of a typical frontier fort was built by the Washington County Historical Society. Travel into the past and see the 18th-century come to life. Visit the tavern, trading post, native village, and federal encampment. See cooking demos and distilling displays. Learn about 18th-century weapons, experience cannon, and musket demonstrations.

Activities Include:

  • Visiting with crafters and demonstrators
  • Experience the Allegheny Valley Uprising, a battle re-enactment portraying the Federal Armies attempt at raising a liberty pole against the Whiskey Rebels. The re-enactment will be held at Schneider’s Fort at 3:30PM.
  • Pony rides, Petting Zoo, Children’s Muster
  • Drilling Demonstrations, 18th-century Weapon Display, talks concerning 18th-century weapons will occur throughout the day
  • Woodworking/Shaving Horse Demonstrations, Flint-knapping Demonstrations, Blacksmithing Demonstrations
  • Talks on Native American Encampment, Native Americans in the Pennsylvania Frontier, Federal Army Encampment, the 18th-century Trading Post, and Tin Man Roy throughout the day
  • Visit The Hangman’s Noose Tavern, located at the Kennedy Log House. See 18th-century Tavern Display, Sample Traditional 18th-century Drinks, enjoy Tavern Talk Presentations throughout the Day, Witness Campfire and Earthen Oven Cooking Demonstrations
Washington County Courthouse Tours
Saturday Only

Built in 1898 by the famous architect Frederick J. Osterling the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In this landmark, with its glorious marble staircase, stained glass dome, and richly paneled courtrooms the citizens cannot help taking pride in their heritage and our system of government.

Tours start at the information tent in front of the courthouse.

City of Washington Architectural Walking Tours
Saturday Only

Narrated walking tours along Main Street of historic Washington City, with focus on c.1800-1900s buildings. Details of architectural elements and history of structural use over time, including buildings that no longer remain. Conducted by Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation.

Check the schedule of events for times.

Presidential Walking Tours
Saturday Only

This tour will take you to a variety of sites where American Presidents have spoken, stayed, or visited when they have come to Washington, PA – residents sometimes call it “Little Washington.”

So why did fifteen Presidents come here? For many, it was the fact that the National Road, the primary artery from east to west in the 19th century, came through Washington. Others visited because they had family or friends in the country; some were campaigning. And one President came to Washington because of a woman named Elizabeth Stockdale. You will learn more about their stories during this hour-long walking tour.

Tours start at the Whiskey Rebels statue on Main Street. Guides provided by Washington & Jefferson College.

History & Heritage Fair
Saturday Only

Visit with and explore exhibits from the region’s top history and heritage tourism sites and educational organizations all under one roof including, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation, Duncan & Miller Glass Museum, National Road Heritage Corridor, Bushy Run Battlefield, Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Genealogical Society of SWPa, Greene County Historical Society, McKeever Study & Library, West Overton Village, Washington County Historical Society, Oliver Miller Homestead and many of the region’s historical societies and other historical organizations.

Historical Church Service Re-enactment
Sunday Only

Join the Washington family of churches as we come together to celebrate a dramatic presentation of the religious history of Washington County at the Community Pavilion on Main Street. The music starts at 10:30am. This unique historical re-enactment will begin at 11 am.

After the historical Sunday Service re-enactment, stay and join us for a Sunday Social. Enjoy the festival food area, shop the craft vendors, listen to old time string music and if you dare learn a few old time dance steps.

The 18th century church will come alive through a live theatrical performance, conducted in such a way to capture the authenticity and power that was the church of the late 1700’s. The preaching and music will reflect the robust faith of the era.  In the words of the Rev. I.N. Hays who spoke during the Centennial Celebration of the Founding of Washington County in 1881 on its Religious History. “This county was brought into existence in the midst of revival…  In this, beyond everything else do we find the most distinguishing feature of our history… Washington County would not be Washington County without her grand and sublime religious History.”

Our goal will be to bring to life the fervor and passion of Rev. Hays words. This will truly be a fresh reflection on the church as it was in the 18th century.

The churches of Washington County during the Whiskey Rebellion were as divided as the population. As a place of worship and as a community gathering place they welcomed both those loyal to the federal government and the whiskey rebels, but not necessarily at the same time or place. This resulted in a desperate time of prayer and reflection to reunite the church and community as it had been prior to the whiskey rebellion.