RADFORD, VA.—The Mary Draper Ingles Festival commemorating the capture, escape and grueling return journey of one of Virginia’s most famous colonial heroines will take place July 29-31 in the City of Radford and surrounding communities.
This year’s festival features colonial period reenactors, old-time crafts and skills, an art exhibit inspired by Ingles and many children’s activities, including a petting zoo, at Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery.
The historic Ingles Farm, which showcases a replica of Ingles’s cabin, will be open for tours and talks by interpreters. Long Way Brewing, a craft beer company whose name is a take on the frontierswoman’s journey, will also feature live music, food trucks, a children’s play zone, and a living history performance by West Virginia actress Karen Vuranch.
Born in 1732 to Irish immigrants in Philadelphia, Ingles became part of the great westward migration of Europeans who pressed on through Virginia in search of affordable land and a better future. She and her family joined an expedition that eventually settled on land in the New River Valley where she married Englishman William Ingles.
Parts of the frontier were in the grips of the French and Indian War, and in July 1755 a group of Shawnees staged an attack, killing four residents and abducting Ingles, her two children, and her sister-in-law. What followed was a month-long march over hundreds of miles through the Ohio and Kentucky regions until Ingles decided to escape.
The story of Ingles’s undeniable determination continues to capture interest more than 260 years later, resulting in numerous books, including “Follow the River.” a “New York Times” bestseller, and several outdoor dramas and movies.
Friday, July 29, kicks off with the dedication of the Mary Draper Ingles Cultural Heritage Park that now includes native plant species, Ingles’s bronze statue, and a train observatory designed and built by Virginia Tech students and faculty.
James Alexander Thom, author of the national bestseller “Follow the River,” is expected to sign books during the event. Long Way Brewing will kick off its celebration with the reintroduction of a craft beer named in Ingles’s honor, music, and food.
The activities on Saturday, July 30, will run most of the day at Glencoe, the brewing company, and the Ingles Farm.
On Sunday, July 31, the festival will continue at Wilderness Road Regional Museum in Dublin and will feature interpreters, live music, and tours of the historic Ingles Tavern located on the banks of the New River in Pulaski County.
The festival is coordinated by Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery and is made possible in part by a grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. An event schedule is available at www.glencoemansion.org. Restaurant and lodging lists are available at www.visitradford.com.