Homecoming. The Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, founded in 1939, held a spring festival in April 1940 and called it the “Dogwood Trail.” It was quite a success with approximately five hundred visitors. The “Dogwood Trail” was held with success in 1941 and 1942, but it was not held again until 1948, after World War II was over. The Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club resumed the Dogwood Trail in 1948 with the new addition of some local homes being opened for touring. By 1950, they had begun to focus more on history than dogwoods, and they changed the name of the spring festival to the Jefferson Historical Pilgrimage, and the festival has been held every year since then. This year the theme of the Historical Pilgrimage is “Homecoming,” and is being held on May 4, 5, 6, 7, 2017.
The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial. The earliest event of the Pilgrimage is always the first performance of “The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial” on Thursday evening, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. This captivating drama is based on the true story of a murder and a subsequent trial which occurred in Jefferson in 1877. All performances of the play are held in the historic Jefferson Playhouse at the corner of Market and Henderson Streets. Other performances are on Friday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling 903-665- 0737 or writing Diamond Bessie Tickets, 305 W. Lafayette, Jefferson, Texas 75657. Advanced ticket purchase is strongly advised.
Home and Garden Tours. The Pilgrimage experience continues on Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6, when four lovely historic homes will be open for tours and four beautiful gardens will also be open between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. At the homes, guides dressed in period costumes will show the homes and their furnishings while telling about the Jefferson families who built and lived in them. Four gardens are included in the home and garden ticket. The gardens are also open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tour tickets may be purchased by calling 903- 665-2513 or 903-452-3836 or at Pilgrimage Headquarters in front of the Excelsior House, 211 W. Austin St., beginning at 9:30 a.m. each day of the Pilgrimage. Prices for Adults are $25 with Children 12 and under for $3. Advance ticket sales are available. They are $24 for adults, or if ordering 15+ ticket there is a 20% discount online at jeffersonpilgrimage.com. Tickets are non-refundable.
Parade. Grand Marshal for the parade will be Maughan Anthony “Tony” Gould. He is the great-great-grandson of the railroad tycoon, Jay Gould. Downtown Jefferson is the place to be on Saturday morning, May 5, at 10 a.m. as the parade makes its way through town. A highlight of the parade is the Town Skirmish, in which Confederate and Union re-enactors put on a dramatic show for visitors.
Hotel Luncheon. After the parade, lunch will be served in the Courtyard and Grand Ballroom of the Excelsior House. The salad luncheon buffet is provided by and served by Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club members from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at a cost of $14. Reservations for this luncheon are encouraged; call 903-665- 2513 or 800-490-7270 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are non-refundable.
Jay Gould Railroad Car. Located on Austin Street across the street from the Excelsior Hotel is the Atalanta, the private rail car of notorious railroad baron, Jay Gould, of New York City. Visit this uniquely furnished car built in 1886 and discover how it came to Jefferson. Tour tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Excelsior House or online at jeffersonpilgrimage.com.
Craft Fair and Sale. Also located on Austin Street in William Perry Park next to the Excelsior House, the Craft Fair and Sale will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6 and on Sunday, May 7 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Heirloom Plant Sale. The Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club prides itself in having one of the best plant sales in the area. The sale contains many reasonably priced plants which have been started from cuttings of local plants by the members of the club. Take time to browse the selection on the front porch of the Excelsior House. The plant sale will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6. On Sunday, the sale will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Heritage Quilt Exhibit. Located at 120 E. Austin St. in the Jefferson Institute, this outstanding collection of quilts, some used in the Civil War as well as other fiber arts, is free and open to the public. This exhibit includes demonstrations of weaving, quilting, rug hooking, embroidery and other handwork. The Heritage Quilt Exhibit will be open on Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 5 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Pleasant Hill Quilters. Also located at the Jefferson Institute at 120 E. Austin St., the Pleasant Hill Quilters will be presenting “The Secret Quilt Codes of the Underground Railroads” at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May. 6. The Pleasant Hill Quilters was organized in 2004…
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