BEFORE the technological age of easily accessible, constant information, gossiping about the larger community was not quite as easy. In the mid-1770s in Loudoun County, people had to catch up on juicy neighborhood tidbits in August at a monthly session of the county court system.
Because area farmers who had harvested spring crops could take time away from the fields in August, that month's session became a community celebration of sorts, when citizens could find out the latest news from the area and beyond, observe trials, socialize and shop.
For the 28th year, "August Court Days" brings back the Colonial mood with a street fair in Leesburg's historic district. On Saturday and Sunday, reenactors dressed in period clothes will conduct mock trials in the red brick courthouse where the original cases were heard. Such trials in years past have drawn standing-room-only crowds as the actors re-create real Colonial cases about such things as horse-and-buggy traffic violations, livestock stealing and peeping Toms.
Outside the courthouse, other reenactors will mingle on the town green. Some will voice their concerns about the king while others will imitate frontiersmen, buckskinners and army troops and demonstrate their camp styles, utensils, weapons and uniforms. A town crier will walk through the street shouting out the time each hour.
Amid all of the Colonial reenacting, music acts Ray Kaminsky, the Chorus of the Old Dominion, South Mountain String Band and Bona Fide will perform styles ranging from folk to bluegrass. English country dancers and the Loudoun Border Guards Fife & Drum Corps will take the stage as well, and there will be an area designated for children featuring puppet shows and Colonial activities, such as writing with a quill pen and making soap.
Just like old times, street vendors will sell handmade crafts and food.
"It's a great celebration, and it's so homey because it's in Old Town Leesburg," said Sarah McCracken, treasurer of the Loudoun Restoration & Preservation Society, which puts on the event. "It's like a mini-vacation for a lot of families because it's really affordable and everyone can see how things used to be," she said. "It really brings history to life."
AUGUST COURT DAYS -- Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 5 at King and Market streets in Leesburg. $5; $2 for ages 5 to 10; and free for children under 5. 800-752-6118.