More than 200 years after it was founded, the city of Martinsburg in collaboration with the Martinsburg Roundhouse will celebrate the historic essence of the area.
The history of this small Eastern Panhandle city will be on full display as organizers of the event, Founders Day/Martinsburg Heritage Fair and Festival, have promised a packed weekend of fun May 11-14 that revolves around the various historical sites and events that have taken place in the city over the years.
Martinsburg was established by an act of the Virginia General Assembly that was adopted in December 1778 during the American Revolutionary War. Founder Major General Adam Stephen named the gateway town to the Shenandoah Valley along Tuscarora Creek in honor of Colonel Thomas Martin, a nephew of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.
The event is set to begin on Thursday, May 11, from 5-7 p.m. with the opening reception of the art exhibit “Interwoven Socks Art: Past, Present & Future.” The event kicks off at the Martinsburg Public Library, on 101 W. King St.
Throughout the weekend there will be numerous events folks can attend, and many of the events will be free.
On Friday, May 12, there will be a laying of the wreath for Revolutionary War Gen. Adam Stephen who was the founding father of Martinsburg and first sheriff of Berkeley County. The event will be held on the 600 block of South Queen Street in Martinsburg.
On Saturday, May 13, another packed day of local history is on tap, with events from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Events include the roundhouse historical tour at 11 a.m., and a tunnels tour (by Tri-State Grotto), yard sale and more at Adam Stephen House, which is at 309 E. John St. in Martinsburg. Both events are free for the public to attend.
Sunday, May 14 is the final day of the festival and is set to begin at 10 a.m. and will feature various Martinsburg heritage sites that will be open for tours. These include the Adam Stephen House, Belle Boyd House, For the Kids by George, Children’s Museum, Martinsburg Roundhouse, Sumner Ramer Memorial School Museum and the Triple Brick Museum.
Examples of events being featured on the final day of the festival include a Civil War-style church service, by Kent Courtney and “An Evening with Martha Washington,” hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution, William Henshaw Chapter at 2:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Roundhouse in downtown Martinsburg.
More information is at roundhousewv.com under the public events tab, and on Facebook at the “Berkeley County 250th Commemoration” page. Festival organizers state: “Festivities include free historic site and museum tours, how-it-was-made demonstrations, reenactors, presentations by heritage groups, historians/authors, Heritage Fair & Train Raid at the Martinsburg Roundhouse, and fun activities for children, including the Tuscarora Creek Duck Derby, Children’s Museum and more.”
It is the goal of the organizers to attract as many participants as possible, and organizers hope everyone can enjoy a slice of the history of Martinsburg, West Virginia.