The 150th anniversary of the day the Union and Confederate armies converged on Farmville is right around the corner. Organizers are looking for volunteers to help welcome people to the heart of Virginia.
“We need about 200 volunteers to work two-to-three hour shifts,” Farmville Downtown Partnership Executive Director Helen Person explained. The opportunities are for Saturday, March 28, from 3 – 8 pm and Sunday, March 29, from 9 am-6 pm. Many of the volunteers will be welcoming visitors to Farmville, handing out maps, giving directions, and assisting in parking lots, Farmville Town Hall, and the Virginia’s Heartland Regional Visitor Center, she said.
“The potential is vast for introducing Farmville and the area we serve to the many guests anticipated for the weekend,” Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Tharpe said. “So far, over 16,500 flyers have been distributed to the greater community through the Town of Farmville water bills and will be showing up as inserts in newspapers throughout our region.”
According to Tharpe, press releases have been sent to over 200 daily and weekly newspapers through the Virginia Press Association with additional contacts made to regional broadcast media. “We are working very hard to both get the word out and, with all of our partners, make this an event our community will be proud of.”
Person, Tharpe, and their respective organizations are part of the public-private team with Cindy Morris and Magi Van Eps, respectively, from the Town of Farmville and the County of Prince Edward. The team, known as The Heart of Your Adventure (THOYA), has been working tirelessly on this project since it fell into their laps just before Christmas.
They learned in early December that another commemorative event planned for some months had run into some problems. When word came that the event had been cancelled, the partners quickly teamed with other local organizations to birth Last Stand: The Civil War Comes to Farmville the first week in January. It was a short time frame when compared to the years long efforts in other communities.
The Farmville-Prince Edward Historical Society, local historian Bob Flippen, members of area chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans, several re-enactor and living historian groups, and a lot of interested citizens have come to the table ready to make Last Stand a reality, according to the THOYA partners. “It’s been very gratifying to have members of the community want to make an event of this size come together so quickly,” Person said.
Through living historians, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee will both be in town to share their stories, answer questions, and interact with Farmville guests. A History Tour featuring sites significant to April 7, 1865 when the Civil War passed through Farmville will take place on the hour and half-hour beginning at Noon on Sunday. The last 1-1/4 hour walking tour will depart Riverside Park at 4 pm.
Guides will lead the tours with speaking and silent Spirits interpreting the stories of each site, Person said. “We’re looking for people of any age who would like to help us take guests back to this important day in the life of our town.”
Events for the weekend include a Living History Village featuring troops from both armies, as well as a Confederate women’s medical corps. Women of the Civil War will demonstrate life on the move as families followed the fighting. Rifle and cannon demonstrations, as well as cavalry exhibitions will take place throughout the day on March 29. A community Palm Sunday service led by area churches is scheduled for 11 am Sunday at Riverside Park.
“It’s been 50 years since a major commemoration of the Civil War took place,” Person said. “Since that time, people are much more mobile. It’s easier for them to travel greater distances to take part in events held on multiple days in multiple locations. However many visitors we have in Farmville, though, we want to be ready to welcome them and make them feel at home.”
To learn more and to sign up, visit www.TheHeartOfYourAdventure.com or www.farmvilleva.com and click on the Volunteer Spot link. Registration on the site is free. A complete description of the volunteer opportunities is included. For additional information, call Prince Edward County Tourism Coordinator Magi Van Eps at 434-392-1482 or stop by the Virginia’s Heartland Regional Visitor Center at 121 E. Third Street, Farmville.