1864 celebrates community and human spirit–its resiliency, faith, courage and effort. After the Confederate ransoming and burning on July 30, 1864, the spirit of Chambersburg’s people rebuilt Chambersburg. The town rose from the ashes and became known as the “Queen City of the Cumberland Valley with prosperous industries, natural resources, transportation facilities, and educational advantages. 1864 portrays the ransoming, burning, and rebirth using lights and atmospheric effects so realistic the town appears to be ablaze.

Enjoy the Civil War Ball; dancers without experience are welcome!
Enjoy the Civil War Ball; dancers without experience are welcome!

The 1864 Weekend begins in Greencastle, PA, on Friday, July 17, with a Civil War Ball at Allison Antrim Museum,6:30-9:30 PM, in the museum’s restored German bank barn. The 2015 Civil War Ball features the Victorian Dance Ensemble. Members of the VDE will demonstrate the dance, place guests in proper formation, and help them execute the dance–which ensures the ball can be enjoyed by dancers with a variety of skill levels. Tickets are $15 individually and $25 per couple. Civil War attire welcome but not required. Registration on Eventbrite or contact 717.552.2977.

On Saturday, July 18–9AM to 4 PM, the streets of downtown Chambersburg close to traffic and transforms into an old-fashioned street festival, appropriately called Old Market Day. More than 100 vendors fill the streets– enticing visitors with their handiwork. Vendors displays range from arts and craft pieces to tempting festival foods plus day-long live entertainment on Courthouse Plaza.

As Old Market Day concludes, 1864 begins. Leading up to the burning and rebirth light show, there are Civil WarChambersfest6 walking tours, history exhibits, living history vignettes, and book signings. Some of the vendors on hand for the 2015 event include the Franklin County Old Jail, John Brown House, authors Bob O’Connor and William Shank, Rada Books–representing multiple eras of history, Gettysburg Wine & Fruit Trail, Zoo Zoo’s Animaland Creations, Monterey Pass Battlefield with Civil War era games for children, Allison Antrim Museum, Waynesboro Municipal Golf Course with golf fun for kids, Chambersburg Heritage Center, Conococheague Institute, and Back Road Riders. Meet these and more as Artie Shultz and Kelly Spinner co-host the 6 PM-7 PM activities. Included during this segment is a portrayal of James Smith, the leader of the Black Boys, who led the rebellion against the British at Fort Loudoun ten years before the American Revolution officially began at Lexington and Concord in 1775. 2015 marks 250 years since the colonial rebellion at Fort Loudoun in 1765.

At 7 PM, the 1864 celebration continues with the final round of A Cappella & Unplugged, performed on the courthouse steps. A Cappella & Unplugged is a musical partnership of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau and A Cappella1Capitol Theatre to bring talent to Franklin County and to bring more celebration to the 1864 event because the Rebirth of Chambersburg after more than 2000 people lost their homes and most of the town was laid to waste remains an amazing accomplishment. Three finalists will perform and one will be the champion. The winner of A Cappella & Unplugged will be named just after 8:30 PM with voting on Facebook and at the event concluding at 8:15 PM.

At 8:45 PM, downtown steps back to 1864. The history reenactment pits Jacob Hoke, an actual merchant on the square of Chambersburg in 1864, against Confederate General “Tiger” John McCausland, who executed the order of his superior General Jubal Early to first ransom and then, if the ransom was not met, burn the town.

1864 is not an ordinary living history event. Staged from the steps of the Franklin County courthouse, the backdrop is truly authentic as today’s courthouse recycles six of the pillars from the 1842 courthouse–the previous courthouse gutted by the Confederate burning. But, most distinctive is the burning–done with lights so realistically, the courthouse and adjoining buildings appear to be afire. As the narration of the story, using original source materials concludes, the town rises from the ashes and is bathed in beautiful lights to signify the rebirth.

New in 2015 is Illuminate! The After Party at The Capitol Theatre, 159 South Main Street, a block from Memorial Square. Enjoy live bands, DJs, dancing, adult beverages, munchies, and interactive art. The art installation project is a colorful light and found materials inspired house that will be built by members of the community as a symbol of what we build in our lives.

Capitol Theatre 3