Celebrate Independence Day in a 1776 setting at American Village

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By Ann Cipperly

With fireworks lighting up the sky at twilight, celebrate the Fourth of July this year with a patriotic theme in a setting reminiscent of a 1776 village at the American Village in Montevallo. Amid a theme of red, white and blue, spend the day with family enjoying hands-on children’s activities, colonial games, patriotic music, Continental Army reenactments, salutes to veterans and activities with costumed historical interpreters.

Patriots dressed in period inspired attire will offer firsthand experiences. Throughout the Village look for Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, among others.

Two of the crowd favorites are the Independence Day Ball, a celebration of dance, music and song; and the Battle at Concord Bridge, as the shot heard ‘round the world ignites a Revolution. Both will be performed twice during the day.

While there will be food vendors, pack a picnic to savor while enjoying the fireworks. A variety of easy to carry coolers make it easy to pack a picnic and keep the food cold until ready to enjoy.

If you can’t go on the Fourth, plan an outing during the month of July for their summer season signature program “Celebrate America,” which features “Pirates, Spies and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride.” Step back in time and learn how colonial spies passed secret messages. Take part in the trial of Blackbeard’s pirates. Join Paul Revere on his midnight ride to warn the colonists that the British are coming.

The summer program runs Tuesday-Saturday (except July 3-5) from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. until July 31. Start at the visitor’s center to find out each day’s revolutionary events. Admission is $5. Children ages 4 and under, veterans and active duty military are admitted free. Reservations are not required.

Opened to the public in 1999 with a focus on engaging and inspiring young people, the American Village offers a glimpse of history set in an authentically reproduced village. Historical interpreters in period dress relive important moments in a young country’s struggle for independence and liberty.

The American Village creation was the vision of Tom Walker, whose perseverance brought the living-history center to life on 188 acres in Shelby County. Walker envisioned students being able to “step into the scene” of history, making our country’s legacy real, personal and relevant. Each year, 30 to 40 thousand students from Alabama and nearby states visit the Village.

Step into history at the Colonial Courthouse, Washington Hall, the Oval Office, Colonial Chapel, President’s House, Randall Miniature Museum of American History, Liberty Hall, the National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor, two Colonial gardens, and a replica of the North Bridge in Concord, Mass.

A full-scale replica of the White House Oval Office and the President’s desk are among the many aspects of this 18th Century inspired village. The Resolute desk is a reproduction of the one used by most Presidents since Rutherford Hayes.

The Assembly Room in Washington Hall is inspired by Philadelphia’s Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. A highlight is a reproduction of the “Rising Sun Chair” where Washington sat during debates. In this room students recreate the Constitutional Convention.

Inspired by Mount Vernon, Washington Hall has a life-size statue of George Washington in the grand foyer. The Mount Vernon Room features a reproduction of Washington’s secretary desk.

Outdoor and indoor educational programs are held at the replica Colonial Courthouse of Williamsburg. The interior is transformed into the Mayflower for Thanksgiving programs, and students debate the resolves for independence as delegates to the Virginia Convention.

Patterned from the first President’s home, the James B. and Sylvia S. Braswell President’s House was the home of the Washingtons and Adams when the first capital was in Philadelphia. The interior is furnished to interpret the presidency of the 1790s. The original house no longer exists.

Many weddings are held every year at the Lucille Ryals Thompson Colonial Chapel, modeled after the Bruton Parish Church of Williamsburg. From a 100 year old pulpit, an interpreter representing Patrick Henry gives a stirring “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

The restored Miniature Museum of American History has found its home at the American Village. Businessman H. Pettus Randall Jr. commissioned sculptors and artists from 14 states to create dioramas illustrating America’s past. The Inaugural Ballroom scene displays every President and First Lady in authentic period formal wear.

Completed in 2014, the National Veterans Shrine is patterned after Philadelphia’s Carpenters Hall. The Shrine honors veterans’ service and sacrifice for America. It features major sculpture and paintings by nationally-renowned artists, interactive media, artifacts and exhibits.

Housed within the Shrine is the Veterans Register of Honor, a website and database containing photographs, biographical sketches, and stories of America’s veterans and active members of the United States Armed Forces.

One leaves the American Village with a better understanding of how our country was formed. “We have almost a national amnesia of about the roots of our freedom,” says the founder. “When we have an understanding that freedom and liberty did not come cheaply, it increases our stewardship.”

The American Village will open Independence Day at 11 a.m. with activities starting at 11:30. Fireworks begin at 7 p.m. and end shortly after 9 p.m. Doors close for attending the fireworks at 6 p.m. Admission for the day is $5 per person. Veterans and active military, and children ages 4 and under, are admitted free.

The American Village is located at 3727 State 119, Montevallo. From Opelika, it will take about two hours. For a complete schedule of events for Independence Day, visit the American Village website: www.americanvillage.org or call 205.665.3535 for further information.

Cipperly can be contacted by email at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Picnic Essentials
Be sure to have enough cold inserts and bags of ice in the cooler to keep food cold. Don’t forget to take hand sanitizers, wet wipes, paper towels, trash bags, napkins, paper plates and utensils. You will also need sunscreen and insect repellent. Pack plenty of water bottles. Take a blanket or folding chairs for watching fireworks.

Snacks
Wash raw vegetables and cut into easy to eat pieces and place in plastic bags. Have plenty of snacks such as chex mix, graham crackers, fish shaped crackers and nuts in individual plastic bags to pass out to children. Take cookies that are easy to eat without any coating that could melt.
For adults, take strips of Swiss, cheddar cheese and other favorite cheeses, grapes and crackers. Homemade cheese wafers are also good.

Sandwich Bites
Our favorite snack to have handy for road trips is wrapped quarter sandwiches. Make sandwiches with whole wheat bread and almond butter or peanut butter. Cut into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and place in a plastic bag. These sandwiches don’t have to be chilled and are easy to eat.

Easy Peanut Butter Bars
½ cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
½ cup butter or margarine
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Melt peanut butter and butter over low heat. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour into greased baking dish; bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Makes 2 dozen squares.

Mamma’s Ice Box Cookies
Lucinda Samford Cannon
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and mix well. Gradually add flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in pecans.
Shape dough into logs and wrap with plastic wrap or freezer paper.
Chill in refrigerator (at least an hour) or freeze.
Slice thinly and bake in a 350 preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Cheese Wafers
Linda Silavent
1 stick margarine, softened
2 cups grated New York Extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
Dash of red pepper
Pinch of salt
Mix all ingredients together. Roll out on floured surface and cut with a small round biscuit cutter or shape into small balls. Place on cookie sheet sprayed with Pam.
Bake at 375 degrees about 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. Bake longer if you prefer crispier cheese wafers.

Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
Penne pasta, cooked according to directions on package
Marinated artichoke hearts to taste
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1 small jar pimentos or sun dried tomatoes, drained
Italian dressing added to taste
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste, if needed.
Combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator. Serves 6-8.

Turkey or Ham Ranch Rolls
8-oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. ranch dressing mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. thinly sliced deli turkey or ham or combination
Four 12-inch burrito tortillas
Add ranch powder and cheddar cheese to cream cheese, mixing well. Spread about 2 Tbsp. mixture evenly on each tortilla. Place 3-4 slices of turkey breast flat on top of the cheese mixture to cover in a single layer.
Carefully roll tortilla up tightly to make sure it holds together and keeps its shape.
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up the softened cheese. Cut off ends of tortilla rolls and slice. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and chill.

Mason Jar Vegetable Dips or Salads
Place dressing in bottom of mason jars. Top with fresh vegetables, such as carrot and celery sticks. For a salad, top dressing with bite sized pieces of lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber and other salad ingredients of choice. Place lids on jars and pack in coolers. When ready to serve salads, shake jars.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Jennifer Jones
4-6 boneless chicken breast, boiled 30-40 minutes with onion slices and a celery rib
When cool, add:
1 ½ cups Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Durkee’s dressing
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce
½ cup dill cubes or relish
¼ cup parsley, chopped (fresh or dried)
5 eggs, boiled and chopped very fine
Combine all ingredients. May need to add a little more mayonnaise; add as needed.
To make sandwiches, freeze a loaf of fresh bread. When it is frozen, it is easy to slice off crusts.
To make sandwiches ahead, place sandwiches in Tupperware type container. Cover sandwiches with plastic wrap and place wet paper towel on top of plastic wrap to keep bread fresh.

Mediterranean Turkey Wraps
¼ cup mayonnaise or softened cream cheese
Four 12-inch wraps or tortillas
4 large romaine lettuce leaves
8 oz. turkey, thinly sliced
20 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
¼ cup stemmed and chopped fresh basil, optional
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Spread mayonnaise or cream cheese over 1 side of each wrap. Place a lettuce leave on the lower third of each wrap. Layer turkey, olives, red peppers, basil and feta cheese over lettuce.
Fold in sides of wrap and roll tightly to enclose filling.
Cut on the diagonal to serve. Store in refrigerator. Makes 4.

New Potato Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
2 lb. new potatoes, washed and quartered
¼ to 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. or more Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook potatoes in salted water until just tender; drain. Combine green onions, olive oil, white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard; blend well and pour over potatoes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in refrigerator.

Chicken, Cranberry, Pecan Salad Wraps
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans
¾ cup chopped celery
½ cup or more, if needed mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large tortillas or wraps
In a large bowl combine chicken, cranberries, pecans and celery; stir to combine. Add mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place tortilla on a plate. Layer with a heaping spoonful of chicken mixture. Roll tortilla; slice in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Chicken and Spinach Wraps
3 spinach tortillas
8 oz. cream cheese softened
6 oz. sour cream
4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies
2-3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled bacon or pre-cooked real bacon bits, optional
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
3 cups fresh spinach
Combine cream cheese, sour cream, green chilies, green onions and bacon bits in a medium bowl.
Spread enough cream cheese mixture evenly over tortilla to cover completely.
Layer a handful of spinach down the center of the tortilla and then shredded chicken. Roll up wrap and slice in half. Wrap in plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator.

Ham, Turkey and Cheese Wraps
½ cup mayonnaise mixed with 2 Tbsp. mustard
Four 10-inch flour tortillas
1/2 lb. thinly sliced smoked turkey
1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss or mozzarella cheese
1½ cups shredded leaf lettuce
1 or 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Small Vidalia onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Spread mayonnaise-mustard evenly over 1 side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Layer ingredients in order; season with salt and pepper.
Roll up tortillas; cut in half diagonally, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Serves 4.

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 small can evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter; add cocoa, sugar and milk. Bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes or until a soft ball is formed when dropped into a cup of cold water.
Remove from heat. Add oatmeal, stirring well. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
Drop by tablespoons onto waxed or foil sheets. Cool.

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