In the Field: The Herbs, Teas, and Arts Festival at Montpelier
Spring has sprung and it is glorious. I'm a rare and lucky resident of the DMV who doesn't suffer from allergies, so the minute the sun starts shining and the weather turns warm, I'm outside as much as humanly possible. Recently, I enjoyed an absolutely perfect Saturday morning at a house museum in Maryland.
Herbs, Teas, and Arts
Montpelier, in Laurel, Maryland (not to be confused with the other Montpelier) hosted its annual Herbs, Teas, and Arts Festival. The sprawling lawn of the estate was dotted with local artisans selling decorative arts, soaps and jewelry, cookies and spices, and of course…tea. I picked up some mint and lavender from a local farmer.
For families with younger children, there was a pavilion with games, woodworking demonstrations, and art projects. A DJ played upbeat music and announced raffle winners and special presentations.
After strolling about the grounds, we picked up our tea-in-a-box and settled on the grass underneath a shade tree for the poetry readings. Featuring Black poets, performers stepped up to the mic to share heart-wrenching and inspiring perspectives on the Black experience in America.
They addressed tough themes of racial injustice, enslavement, and misogyny, and the lessons we have and have yet to learn from our collective past. When I filled out the visitor survey at the end of our visit, I made sure to highlight the poetry reading. It was the best part of the program that I experienced and I wanted to encourage the museum to continue to explore and tell the stories of the enslaved people at Montpelier and their descendants.
I didn't take a tour of the house museum itself on this visit. From what I gathered, the property was part of a land grant bestowed on Richard Snowden by Lord Baltimore.
Snowden's descendent, Major Thomas and his wife Anne built the Georgian-style home between 1781 and 1785. Major Thomas earned his moniker because of his service in the Revolutionary War. Other revolutionaries to spend time at Montpelier include Abigail Adams, and George and Martha Washington.
Montpelier would be home to four generations of Snowdens and the people they enslaved, including Nance and Catte Creek and a blacksmith named, Ben.
Revisiting in the Future
There were so many delights to take in at the tea festival I opted not to take a tour of the house on this visit. I will return to do so and hopefully learn a little bit more about the home, the Snowdens, and the people they enslaved. Keep an eye on this space. For now, I have a short video about the Festival and little piece of creative writing if ghosts are your thing.
Events like this strengthen ties to the community and help us connect with people found in the silences of history. The Herbs, Teas, and Arts Festival is an annual event, so if I've piqued your interest, there will be an opportunity to catch next year's festival. Maybe I'll see you there.