Next week is the sesquicentennial anniversary of First Manassas which will be marked with a two-day battle reenactment at a Gainesville farm — the National Park Service does not allow reenactments on park land — and an encampment and vendors’ area. Thousands are expected to fill the bleacher seats for the spectacle on July 23 and 24.
However, there is another series of events during the same weekend in the historic district of Manassas, including a formal ball, period concert, art exhibit, walking tour and a salute to the Peace Jubilee that brought together Union and Confederate soldiers on the centennial of the battle. Those and other activities will take place within a six to seven square block area, often referred to as Old Town, that offers period houses, restaurants and shops.
All the events in that area are free except the Sesquicentennial Blue and Grey Ball on July 23. Tickets are $75 a person and include music, food and dancing.
Don’t expect to park in Old Town Manassas for any of the planned events. It is a small area with limited parking on ordinary days. Free parking is being offered at the nearby Prince William County fair grounds. Purchase a $20 ticket at the parking lot and a shuttle bus, scheduled to depart every 15 minutes, will take you to Old Town, stop at every venue and then return to the fair grounds.
Debbie Haight, executive director of Historic Manassas Inc, said the shuttle bus ticket comes with a bonus. Included in the price is a $5 credit card good at most stores and restaurants in Old Town.
The real bonus may turn out to be the air conditioned bus: The advance forecast calls for a very hot weekend.