Turkey Run Farm, the National Park Service's working replica of a colonial farm that was targeted for closing earlier because of budget cuts, yesterday was transferred -- lock, stock and half a dozen barrels -- to a hastily formed nonprofit group of Northern Virginia celebrities.
Sitting on one of the farm's split-log benches, a turkey and several chickens pecking the dirt at his feet, Park Service Director Russell E. Dickenson signed over the operation of the farm to the Friends of Turkey Run until the year 2006.
The group, formed with the help of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), as well as such celebrities as Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy, Lynda Johnson Robb and assorted Washington Redskin football players, already has raised more than $35,000 to continue operating the farm.
A gala $50-a-couple cocktail party will be held in the woods near the McLean farm June 12, followed by dinner with Warner, Wolf and Interior Secretary James Watt, to raise more funds. Officials have said the farm costs $10,000 to $12,000 a month to operate.
Turkey Run Farm, which had more than 36,000 visitors last year, was started eight years ago after the CIA gave the Park Service 128 acres that it had been using for recreation and ball fields. The farm's log cabin, tobacco field, vegetable garden and small pastures are surrouned by dense woods -- only a few hundred yards from the intelligence agency.
At yesterday's transfer ceremony, Wolf spoke to a crowd of more than 50 gathered around the log cabin where a barefooted, costumed Park Service employe was baking the day's bread. "This is really a children's park, where they can see what life was like in the 18th century," he said. "Not everyone lived in a Mount Vernon."
The Park Service had been planning to close the farm because of Reagan administration budget cuts when Wolf, who represents the area, developed plans to keep it open with privately raised funds.