Celebrate ‘July 4th, 1815’ this weekend at Musee de Venoge

A very special celebration of the 4th of July will be held this Saturday and Sunday, June 30th and July 1st, at Musee de Venoge near Vevay.


A very special celebration of the 4th of July will be held this Saturday and Sunday, June 30th and July 1st, at Musee de Venoge near Vevay.
“July 4th, 1815” will be celebrated each day, with the event being true to the French-Swiss traditions of the time — which thoroughly and patriotically celebrated America’s independence.
“The beginnings of our thinking for this event came from the writing of Perret Dufour as he tells of the arrival of the Swiss at Lexington, Kentucky near the first Vineyard… July 3rd, 1801,” Donna Weaver of Musee de Venoge says. “The next day the Kentuckians celebrated the 4th of July with a barbecue, and the Swiss brought that custom to Vevay. Perret Dufour tells us that as early as 1805 the barbecues were held in a grove. Other years it was held near the river and sometimes on the Court House lawn. The reading of the Declaration of Independence, orations, toasts, cheers and dancing followed. We wanted to get that sort of festivity into an event.”
The event will be held on Saturday, June 30th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and on Sunday, July 1st, the celebration will be held from noon until 5 p.m. Admission both days is free.
During the day Musee de Venoge will also be featuring hearth cooking, outdoor bake oven and trades and demonstrations. The Declaration of Independence will be read and there will be a gun salute to the 18 states that were in the union at the time.
There will also be children’s games, hands on period art; the demonstration of early trades; music true to the time period; and visitors will also be able to visit the new barn that has been erected at the site.
Along with the free programs during the day, there is also a special event being held on Saturday night, June 30th, from 5-8 p.m.
Musee de Venoge will host an Ox Roast Dinner and continue the 4th of July celebration. Tickets must be purchased to attend the dinner, and are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Children under six are admitted free.
Our evening program will have several traditional presentations, music and the reading of a poem “the Empire of Bacchus” written here in Vevay in 1812 or 13 — in Latin and translated!,” Weaver said. “Its very florid and mentions the various early French-Swiss vintners. Plus the ox roast done by Steve Thomas of Thomas Family Winery in Madison; The Ridge Winery will also be mentioned; and John Francis Dufour will make an appearance. It is a dinner where the re-enactors will mingle with the public and enjoy the traditional 13 toasts to the republic, followed by music and country dancing.”
One of the rare opportunities that visitors for “July 4th, 1815” will have is to experience the “Grand Camera Obscura”, which will be presented by Jonathan Stealey.
The Grand Camera Obscura is a walk-in display where visitors will enter a canvas room that is16 feet tall and features 100 yards of canvas. There is also 16 pounds of glass, 325 feet of rope; 125 board feet of wood, and 30 pounds of brass and iron; all working to create a four foot diameter image.
According to Wikipedia: “Camera obscura, from Latin, meaning “dark room”: camera “(vaulted) chamber or room,” and obscura “darkened, dark”), also referred to as pinhole image, is the natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening. The surroundings of the projected image have to be relatively dark for the image to be clear, so many historical camera obscura experiments were performed in dark rooms.
“The term “camera obscura” also refers to constructions or devices that make use of the principle within a box, tent or room. Camerae obscurae with a lens in the opening have been used since the second half of the 16th century and became popular as an aid for drawing and painting. The camera obscura box was developed further into the photographic camera in the first half of the 19th century when camera obscura boxes were used to expose light-sensitive materials to the projected image.”
Stealey was granted the rare privilege of examining, measuring and photographing a “camera obscura” acquired by Thomas Jefferson, possibly in 1794, and preserved at Monticello. Stealey gained access to the artifact by proposing that he would build not one, but two replicas — one for himself and one to present to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation for use in training their docents and other educational programs. He submitted his request to the Foundation in December 2006 and returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 20th, 2007, with the completed replica.
The camera obscura is neither a camera nor something that obscures as it might seem. It is actually a tool that can help students learn to draw and was often used by artists to paint portraits and landscapes before the invention of photography in 1839. It served as an aid in accurately portraying perspective and proportion. Variations of the camera obscura consist of a wooden box with a lens.
Instead of taking a picture on film, it projects an inverted image onto a mirror, which reflects a reversed image onto a ground glass plate. A piece of paper positioned on the glass can be used to trace the outlines of the image reflected.
For more information on the event or to purchase tickets for the ox roast, call (812) 593-5726.