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July 1, 2009 > Celebrate a traditional Independence Day

Celebrate a traditional Independence Day

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By courtesy of Ira Bletz

Excitement is building as 4th of July events and celebrations are just around the corner. East Bay Regional Park district keeps an annual tradition alive with engaging fun-filled activities common to the years just prior to the 1900's. Enjoy rousing patriotic music from a brass band on the lawn and fiddle music in the farmyard. There will be no fireworks at the farm, but Ira Bletz, Supervising Naturalist said, "Since the event ends well before dark, people have plenty of time to enjoy Ardenwood before going home for fireworks." The community festival, celebrates our country's 233rd birthday with games, contests and races for all ages, all day long.

Ardenwood exhibits agricultural practices from the 1870s to the present and is home to many farm animals. The farm is also the home of Patterson Ranch, a beautiful mansion built in 1857, with elaborate Victorian Gardens. Following its opening in 1985, the farm has been celebrating Independence Day with historic activities. "We are recreating a community celebration from 1900. This is the type of community event that might have been held in any of the area's towns. For many Americans of that era, July 4th was their only summer holiday."

"Communities would gather for music, dancing, games and contests," said Bletz. At Ardenwood Historic Farm, contests including a bucket brigade, egg toss, watermelon seed spitting or tug-of-war will fill the day far from the modern daily grind. People are welcome to bring a picnic but in keeping with the historic atmosphere, modern recreational equipment including frisbees, footballs, soccer balls, bicycles, balloons and grills are prohibited. "We have food service available - BBQ, salads, hot dogs, snacks, drinks and ice cream," said Bletz.

The Bayside Brass Band will play stirring marches and other patriotic turn-of-the-last century music as young and old can watch historic demonstrations including ice cream making, folk toy making, quilting demonstrations, historic cooking and magic shows at noon and 3 p.m. A dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, a stirring highlight of this July 4th celebration, will be held at 1:30 p.m.

Contestants will attempt to break records from previous years. Last year Karen Metzger of Campbell and Walt Ballard of Union City won the nail-driving contest. Aaron and Andy Jones of San Bruno won the egg-tossing contest by successfully launching and catching an egg, without hearing, seeing and feeling the sound of cracking shells and the ultimate mess from 60 feet. Steven Metzger of Campbell was the first to finish his chocolate cream pie in just 59 seconds. He also holds Ardenwood's record of 48 seconds set in 2007. Among children Erin Tsang of San Francisco captured first place in the pie-eating contest. A Bucket Brigade contest tests the agility of teams to fill a barrel with water; last year the winning team accomplished the feat in 10 minutes and 38 seconds.

"Watermelon Seed Spitting contest has different age groups trying to spit a watermelon seed for distance. We measure the distances to determine the winner. Everyone gets a slice of watermelon too," said Bletz. The contests are for men, women and kids. If you think you are adept at driving a nail into a board, have a soft touch tossing a raw egg or can't get enough pie, come forward and take the challenge.

Independence Day at Ardenwood Historic Farm
Saturday, July 4
10 a.m.-4 p.m
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-0663

$8/adults (18+ years), $6/seniors (62+ year), $5 children (4-17 years), under 4 years free.
No parking fee

Dogs are not permitted in the park.

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