Planatation Daily Life, May 16 and 17, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sully Planatation, Rte. 28 in Chantilly, one mile north of Rte, 50 and four miles south of the Dulles Access Road.
If you run out of chores this Saturday and Sunday, you might run over to Sully Planatation and do the laundry. There, visitors to the 16th annual return to "Plantation Daily Life" will learn to do 18th-century chores with genuine 18th-century elbow grease, as part of the Fairfax County Park Authority's effort to acquaint county resident with their heritage.
If doing the wash isn't your idea of a good time, walk around a bit. Demonstrators will be asking for help in churning butter, preserving eggs in gelatin, cooking (and eating) vegetable soup and making up salves.
That last item should in handy, because Dr. John Victor, a retired civil servant who actually has a degree in 18th-century medicine, plans to "diagnose" members of the crowd and treat their ailments.
Victor, who frequently speaks to health specialists about his unusual specialty, advises visitors to leave their scoffs and smirks behind. "The progress we've made in medicine (since the 18th century) has largely been technical -- a skilled surgeon then was no different than a skilled surgeon today," says Victor.
In fact, he says, surgeons in that century had a 94 percent success rate removing gallstones -- "and that was without anesthesia!"
Dr. Victor will discuss such old-fashioned treatments as herbs, salves and herbal tea, and will invite young people in the crowd to make up remedies with mortar and pestle.
Young people will have plenty to occupy them here, since this view of daily life includes cheer along with the chores. The Moxie Puppet Company, a Williamsburg group that does Punch and Judy in the 18th-century manner, will put on shows several times each day, using a "walking stage" built right onto the shoulders of the puppeteer.
And a group of fourth graders from Bluemont, Va., will demonstrate what they learned during an educational field trip to Williamsburg -- games such as leap frog, button button and touch wood as well as hoop rolling, horseshoes and colonial dancing.
Crafts are a large part of the affair, shown by folk artists like Bill "World's Largest Basket" Cook, the Blacksmiths Guild of the Potomac and a couple of shoemakers from the First Virginia Regiment.
"We wanted everything done in the authentic method," says Victor, one of the founders of the demonstration regiment. "And we found we needed someone to make and repair shoes after all that marching. So Al (Saguto) and Bill (Tolbut) took it on as a project."
Inside the house, visitors can learn to make potpourri and watch demonstrations of the "parlor arts" -- embroidery and and lacemaking. The latter comes from Edna Coryell, a 94-year-old lacemaker from White Post, Va., who learned the art when she was 13.
"She learned to make lace from her own grandmother, who had entered work in the Centennial in Philadelphia," says Coryell's daughter, Alice Jeffrey.
Using linen thread ("not the best quality") and a shuttle ordered from Salt Lake City, Coryell constructs her "Geripure D'Art" (antique lace), a fishnet-looking lace. Designs are woven into the fishnetting with a tapestry needle.