Thousands will descend upon the in Katonah on Wednesday for the Independence Day Fair, a new event combining the site's historic traditions with the festive atmosphere of its country fair, held each September until this year.
Colonial-era games, blacksmithing demonstrations, log-sawing contests and visits with a George Washington re-enactor are all part of the historically-themed activities planned with a main event being the reading of the Declaration of Independence, staged at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
And fans of the annual country fair will enjoy the sheepherding and beekeeping, a farm market, a pie baking contest and food tent with hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn and ice cream.
The change in event planning arose primarily because of the staffing needed to run two large events in one fall weekend, according to Wendy Ross, executive director of the Friends of John Jay Homestead.
"What we found was the staging of the annual barn dance on Saturday night plus the country fair on Sunday was really taxing on our staff and volunteers," said Ross. "And our July Fourth event was more low-key, so it made sense to move the fair and combine the two."
Ross added that tying in the fair to the national holiday made the event more closely aligned with the Friends' mission, which is to increase the public's appreciation and awareness of John Jay's contributions to the founding of America.
The historic site is the home of Founding Father John Jay, two-term Governor of New York, chief negotiator of the Treaty of Paris, the first Chief Justice and a former Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The home was passed to his son who played a role in the anti-slavery movement. The house opened in 1964 as an historic site and has since been restored to look as it did during Jay's lifetime in the 1800s.
The barn dance will still take place in September, Ross said, and for anyone that's wondering—the swimming pigs will be back!
With the combined 30-year history of the fair and the July Fourth event in Katonah, Ross said she expected between 2,500 and 5,000 people to attend Wednesday's event.
The Independence Fair is co-hosted by the Rotary Club of Bedford-Armonk and has no admission charge. House tours and hands-on experiences in the Summer Kitchen Discovery Center will be offered.
A map and a complete schedule of events is available here.
Visitors can also check out the progress on the Homestead's Carriage Barn, which is being .