More than 200 years ago, when Edward Hand and his family lived at Rock Ford Plantation, one of the best forms of entertainment was storytelling.
With no Wi-Fi, TVs or recorded music, it was a natural. It always has been.
Storytelling is maybe the simplest, and certainly the oldest, form of entertainment.
And Hand, adjutant general to George Washington during the Revolutionary War, no doubt had plenty of exciting adventures with which to regale his family and friends.
No wonder, then, Rock Ford has begun holding storytelling events.
It began with Storytelling on the Porch in the summer. Now it has expanded to the winter season.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the plantation will hold Stories in the Barn.
The event is free, though donations will be accepted. Adults must accompany children.
No reservations are required. but if you are thinking of bringing a large number of children, call Rock Ford to give them a heads up.
“It’s the perfect setup,” says Patty Winters, a member of Rock Ford’s children’s committee. “We’ve got this gorgeous background of Rock Ford — the grounds and the barn.”
The barn is used for a variety of events, including weddings, fundraisers and other children’s events, including George Washington’s Birthday Party.
“Because our stories on the porch were so well received, we decided to start Stories in the Barn,” Winters says. “This is our second time.” (The first was in October.)
Of course, one story does not fit everyone, and just a year or two can make a huge difference in what kids understand and are interested in.
“We have two age groups on Saturday, 3 to 6 and 7 and older,” Winters says.
The barn is big enough for 40 to 50 children, so breaking into two separate groups is easily done.
“Our stories always have some connection to Rock Ford,” Winters says.
“No stories about trains or planes or cars,” adds Michelle Pieters, another member of the children’s committee.
She remembers reading a story about deer to the younger children because Rock Ford was home to a number of deer.
“It was about deer making tracks in the snow and then after the story, kids make a craft, so they made deer necklaces,” Pieters says. “We get them up and moving, they might sing a song and march in place. And we have the parents do it along with them.”
“The older kids’ story is more involved, more historically related to the time period when Gen. Edward Hand (who owned Rock Ford in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) lived there,” Winters says. “Maybe Washington crossing the Delaware or Edward Hand inviting Washington to come to his house and visit.”
The older kids might use quill pens to write with, or, when reading about Washington crossing the Delaware, choose to make a boat.
“Some of these kids are fascinated by history,” Winters says.
And everyone gets some snacks.
The storytelling sessions, which last about 45 minutes, have an added benefit, in opening up Rock Ford to new visitors.
“Some parents say to us, ‘I’ve never been here.’ Rock Ford is such a secret, so we’ve taken up the initiative and planned events that inspire young people to come back,” Winters says.
That includes events such as “George Washington’s Birthday Party” on Feb. 10, and another Stories in the Barn reading on March 16.