Throughout 2016, Old Salem Museum & Gardens is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town of Salem, North Carolina, a Moravian settlement built on a foundation of faith, culture, and education. Old Salem is hosting a variety of special activities and programming throughout 2016 to commemorate this important milestone.
The Fourth of July is a special time at Old Salem. Many people don’t realize that it is the site of the nation’s first official Fourth of July celebration, which took place in 1783. In addition, Old Salem is one of the few places that can say with certainty: George Washington really did sleep here!
This year, Old Salem is offering several days of hands-on activities, patriotic demonstrations, and more around July 4th. The festivities begin on July 2nd (9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and July 3rd (1 to 4:30 p.m.) with a variety of fun activities for the whole family. On Saturday, July 2nd, Old Salem is hosting Signora Bella, the Great Italian Equilibrist, for performances throughout the day. Tracing her roots to the Italian theatrical style of Commedia Dell’Arte, Signora Bella amazes audiences with her feats of balance and juggling of sharp Turkish swords and flaming torches. Her high-energy performances encourage audience participation, creating a unique performance every time.
As always, the annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony will be a full day of fun activities for the whole family. The festivities begin on July 4th at 9:30 a.m. and last until 4:30 p.m. in Old Salem’s Historic District, and include hearth cooking, music, hands-on crafts, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. At 4:15, a commemoration of the 1783 celebration of peace and July 4th in Salem will take place.
A Naturalization Ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Salem Square. There will be special music, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a keynote address by former US Senator Kay Hagan. Perhaps the most moving and inspiring part of the event will be the administration of the Oath of Allegiance and the presentation of certificates to the new citizens.
Admission to activities for each day are included with the purchase of an All-In-One ticket, which is $27 for adults and $13 for students ages 4−18. Admission to the Naturalization Ceremony is free. Tickets can be purchased online at oldsalem.org or at the Visitors Center at 900 Old Salem Road.
The celebration continue in August, when Old Salem will host a three-night event, presented with support from Flow Automotive Companies, called Illuminate Salem, on August 11th, 12th, and 13th. Each evening, you can enjoy a free concert on Salem Square (corner of Academy and Main Street) followed by a magical light show that will tell the story of Salem. Bring your family and a picnic blanket and enjoy a chance to experience the story of Salem in a unique way. The pre-light show concerts on Salem Square are made possible by support from Salemtowne Retirement Community. The concerts and the light show are free, but a donation of non-perishable food items for Sunnyside Ministry is encouraged.
Another way to join the 250th Anniversary Celebration of Salem, NC, is to visit Old Salem on August 13th for a free Community Day, presented with support from Wells Fargo. From 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., you can tour the buildings and gardens in the historic district at no charge. There will be festive food vendors in the Tavern Meadow. Home Moravian Church, The Moravian Archives, and the Moravian Music Foundation will be open for special activities and tours. This event is free, but donations of non-perishable food items to Sunnyside Ministries are suggested.
In addition to these events, there other activities taking place this summer, and on any given day, visitors can explore the historic buildings, including St. Philips Heritage Center, Miksch Garden and House, Single Brothers’ House, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, as well as many more, and can enjoy several dining options (The Tavern in Old Salem, The Flour Box Tea Room & Cafe) and find unique shopping opportunities (Winkler Bakery, T. Bagge Merchant, Moravian Book & Gift Shop). To find a complete list of events and activities and more information on Old Salem, please visit oldsalem.org.