The Virginia General Assembly has designated the last Saturday in July beginning with 2017 as Mary Draper Ingles Remembrance Day.
Delegate Joseph Yost of Pearisburg introduced the joint resolution to honor the colonial heroine during the past legislative session. The distinction comes at a time when interest in the story of Mary’s capture and escape from a Shawnee hunting party is again gaining ground. Over the years, her return home by navigating rivers and living off the land has been the subject of numerous books, an outdoor drama and a couple of movies. She is also widely honored through the states of West Virginia and Kentucky.
“This renewed interest in the frontier story began with a small group of volunteers from the City’s Tourism Advisory Commission, who set out to raise money for a bronze statue honoring Mary,” said Deb Cooney, director of tourism. “It took off from there.”
Last fall hundreds of people, including a large contingent of descendants, gathered to dedicate the statue located in a Cultural and Heritage Park adjacent to Glencoe Mansion and Museum in west end Radford. Cooney said that day set in motion the idea to create some form of the original outdoor drama, ”The Long Way Home,” that told Mary’s story to thousands over almost three decades at the Ingles Homestead.
This July weekend marks the second performance of the new drama, “Walk to Freedom: The Mary Draper Ingles Story,” at the historic garden amphitheater on the grounds of Nesselrod Bed & Breakfast. Performances also will be held the last Sunday in August and September.
Cooney likes to point out that the play and statue, however, represent only two of a growing list of Mary attractions in the City. Other tourist assets include a stone obelisk located at the entrance to a cemetery, a mural at the post office, an exhibit and video at the museum, an outdoor sculpture garden and a display at the public library, not to mention the replica of Mary’s cabin that is open annually to visitors.
“Obviously, we have quite a trail developing in our municipality to honor such an inspirational individual,” Cooney added.
For more information contact: Radford Visitor’s Center at info@VisitRadford.com.