Fayetteville Holds NC’s Official Lafayette Birthday Celebration
Revolutionary War Hero Marquis de Lafayette Honored September 8 and 9
Fayetteville, NC – Fayetteville was the first U.S. city named for “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman,” (as Lafayette is recognized in the musical Hamilton) and the only namesake city he visited. When the Marquis de Lafayette came back to America in 1824/25 he was enthusiastically welcomed in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Touched by a friend’s story of the first town in America named for him, Lafayette included Fayetteville on his tour. Upon his March 4, 1825 arrival, Fayetteville rolled out the proverbial red carpet to welcome the famed nobleman and gentleman. In his speech of welcome, Judge Toomer proclaimed, “Never, never can we forget the youthful stranger who, in the darkest hour of adversity, so generously flew to our succor, and so gallantly fought the battle of freedom.”
The community continues to honor its connection to Lafayette by holding an annual birthday celebration, to be held this year September 8 through 9. Although his actual birthday is September 6th, the weekend after Labor Day has been designated for this public observance. Both the US Congress and the NC House of Representatives recognize the significance of this celebration. In 2007, the United States Congress issued a proclamation that declared Fayetteville is “where North Carolina Celebrates Lafayette’s Birthday.” In 2011, the NC House of Representatives issued statement recognizing “the celebration held every September in Fayetteville as North Carolina’s official Lafayette Birthday Celebration.”
The weekend events honor Lafayette’s French heritage, takes visitors to the sites Lafayette visited, and pays homage to the history of the community during the Revolutionary War era.
Friday, September 8:
5:30 p.m. / Arias and Artifacts at Methodist University. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the program includes a reception with French foods, a program about Lafayette artifacts on display at the Davis Library and an hour-long concert of music by French composers. Tickets are $10 for the concert and may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 910-678-8899. The reception at the library is free but reservations are requested – please call 910-630-7412.
Saturday, September 9:
8:30 a.m./ Lafayette Trail Tour. Follow in Lafayette’s footsteps on a narrated tour that brings you to the sites he visited during his stay in Fayetteville. The tour begins with coffee and croissants at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry (FILI) where guests can see Lafayette’s carriage and learn about his connection to FILI, the oldest militia unit in continuous existence in the south. Lunch follows the tour. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at City Center Gallery & Books or by calling 910-678-8899.
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. / Festival of Yesteryear at Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. Focusing on the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods, this program features re-enactors demonstrating various aspects of daily life of that era, including colonial medicine, crime and punishment, music, woodworking, tar making and naval stores, and militia drills. At 2:00 p.m., a birthday cake and ice cream party celebrates Lafayette’s 260th birthday. This free event is held at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, 801 Arsenal Avenue. www.NcDCR.gov/ncmcf.
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. / Historic Tours by Horse and Carriage. These 75-minute historic specialty tour provides an overview of Fayetteville’s Revolutionary War History and takes attendees inside Cool Spring Tavern, which housed the North Carolina delegates that ratified the United States Constitution in 1789. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at City Center Gallery & Books or by calling 910-678-8899.
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. / Lafayette in Fayetteville Exhibit at the Market House. The second floor of the Market House houses an exhibit honoring Lafayette, his 1825 visit, and his connections to Fayetteville.
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. / French Wine Tasting at The Wine Café. Owner Angie Malave hosts a free wine tasting with a guest expert to explain the characteristics of French regional wines. The Wine Café is located at 108 Hay Street.
7:00 p.m. / The Lafayette Escadrille in World War I. Mike Ariano presents the history of the Lafayette Escadrille, which included young men who left the US for France between 1915 and 1917 to fly for France in the fight against Germany, before the United States had declared war. The program is presented at City Center Gallery and Books.
The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum houses an exhibit of artifacts from Lafayette’s visit. The exhibit is filled with an array of artifacts, images and information connecting Lafayette to the City of Fayetteville. The exhibit includes letters written by Lafayette, period souvenirs from the visit, a rosette worn at the ball held in Fayetteville and other artifacts.
For more information on other events happening in greater Fayetteville, go to www.VisitFayettevilleNC.com.
About the FACVB:
The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for positioning Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, sporting events and individual travel. For additional information, visit www.visitfayettevillenc.comor call 1-800-255-8217. Cumberland County is America's first military sanctuary.