Great Falls Park offers music, history and fun this weekend -- Gazette.Net


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There will be music, singing, and lots of old fashioned games and crafts at the C & O Canal Spring Festival, a celebration of life on the canal, at Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center in Potomac on Saturday.

Visitors can take a ride on the Charles F. Mercer, a replica of a canal boat that carried people and goods along the C & O Canal when it was a water highway between Georgetown in Washington D.C., and Cumberland, Md.

If You Go

What: C & O Spring Festival

When: Saturday; rain date is Sunday

Where: Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center, 11710 Mac Arthur Blvd., Potomac

Cost: Event is free. Boat rides are $8 for general admission, $6 for senior citizens and $5 for children ages 4 to 15

Information: www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/greatfallstavernvisitorcenter.htm or call 301-767-3714

The one-hour boat ride, powered by mules pulling it along, includes the experience of going through a lift lock, one of many built on the canal to accommodate the change in elevation.

“You go through a lift lock exactly as when the canal was in operation,” said Geoff Suiter, a park ranger.

Suiter is one of many park rangers and volunteers who will be in period dress for the festival, explaining life on the canal. Construction started on the 184.5-mile waterway in 1828 and the canal operated until 1924, he said.

Entertainment will be provided by the Washington Revels Maritime Voices, presenting songs of the canal accompanied by period instruments, and Jubilee Voices, with songs of the African-Americans who worked the canal or used it to escape to freedom.

The first scheduled activity of the day is the 11 a.m. boat ride. There also will be boat rides at 1:30 and 3 p.m. Each ride takes one hour. Though the festival is free, the boat rides are $8 for general admission, $6 for senior citizens and $5 for children ages 4 to 15.

Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center is at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac. For more information visit www.nps/choh/planyourvisit/greatfallstavernvisitorcenter.htm.

pmcewan@gazette.net