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Blacksmithing at colonial-era forge
Melvin Allbeck at colonial forge with young Steven Jefferson, 1990 Callands Festival. Photo: James "Mack" Doss

Callands Festival

In 1775, the Pittsylvania Courthouse became a hotbed of Revolutionary-era fervor when freeholders met there and voted to form a "Committee of Safety" to stand by their fellow Bostonians and boycott all English goods. In 1777, Pittsylvania County ended the official use of the courthouse (built in 1772), as well as the clerk's office (built in 1767). The courthouse soon found new life as a store owned by a Scotsman, Samuel Calland. The fame of the store, which sold, in addition to necessities, the finest imported goods, was such that the community, originally known as Chatham, became known as Callands.

Inspired by the bicentennial of Pittsylvania County in 1967, the clerk's office was restored under the leadership of the Chatham Garden Club, and the courthouse under the leadership of the Pittsylvania Historical Society. Wishing to bring to life the long history of Callands as embodied in these two structures, James "Mack" Doss of the Pittsylvania Historical Society organized the first Callands Festival in 1980. The annual festival day, always held the first Saturday of October, witnesses area citizens engaging in period crafts: blacksmithing, rug-hooking, spinning, basket-weaving, making apple butter, cider, fried sweet potato and apple pies. In addition, a "longhunters camp" is erected displaying the authentic gear of woodsmen who spent months in the forests trapping and hunting for fur, the "coin of the realm," which they sold to Squire Calland. The project is documented with photographs and accompanying descriptions, a Callands Festival brochure, and a report entitled "Historic Callands."

Originally submitted by: Virgil Goode, Jr., Representative (5th District).



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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