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Behind the scenes

Festivities to mark estate’s opening

Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the Governor Oliver Ames Estate in Easton.
Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the Governor Oliver Ames Estate in Easton.Trustees of Reservations

Bands will play. Works of art from two juried exhibitions will be on show. Children will be invited to color in the composition of a large outdoor canvas, practice Pilates and tai chi, and create cartoons in an animation studio. Walking tours and bus tours will guide visitors through the town’s new cultural district.

The June 29 festival for the official opening of the Governor Oliver Ames Estate, a new public conservation property in the heart of the cultural district, celebrates “the wonderful legacy of beauty, culture, architecture, and horticulture that the Ames family has bestowed on the town of Easton,” said Carolyn Cole, chairwoman of the Easton Shovel Town Cultural District.

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One of the state’s oldest land preservation groups, The Trustees of Reservations, and the volunteers of the Easton Shovel Town Cultural District, a new designation within the footprint of the North Easton Historic District, are sponsoring the grand opening of the estate and the art, music, food, and fun festival to celebrate it.

The 36-acre estate, the one-time home of Governor Oliver Ames, was acquired two years ago by the Trustees through a donation and matching contributions. It’s been open informally for walkers and picnickers, and public parking exists on the property.

It’s a beautiful site, Cole said. “The estate was designed with an arboretum of beautiful old trees.”

Settled by Ames, the state’s governor from 1887 to 1890, the site features rolling hills, meadows, ponds, and a park land of mature trees — all within walking distance of the historic district’s other attractions.

According to the Trustees, the Ames family had an outsized influence on the town, helping to shape Easton since the early 19th century. Their success was based on the Ames Shovel Co., which supplied tools for the Civil War and the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, along with homelier uses.

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The family’s presence lives on in Easton in the name of the town library and high school and the imposing Oakes Ames Memorial Hall, a grand 19th-century public assembly building used for wedding receptions and other functions today, designed by the prominent architect H.H. Richardson, with landscaping by Frederick Law Olmsted.

“The company was way ahead of their time,” Cole said. “They supplied workers with housing. They built the first bank and a store.”

The estate’s location encourages partnering and combining on projects with other groups such as the cultural district volunteers, who recently opened a nearby art gallery.

“The Easton Shovel Town Cultural District said to us, when you’re ready to open the doors and make a splash we’d love to help you out with a festival,” said Trustees spokeswoman Kristi Perry.

Trustees chief executive officer Barbara Erickson praised the cultural district group’s effort. “We are grateful to them for their energy and creativity, as well as the many community members and supporters who have helped us achieve this important milestone.”

The grand opening will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Erickson and local officials before the festival begins.

The Trustees will open the estate’s mansion to house shows by both children and adult artists. The junior show, of exhibitors up to age 18, will be juried by Mim Fawcett, the Attleboro Arts Museum director. The adult show will be juried by Allison Krajcik, a local award-winning watercolorist.

Music will be performed both indoors and out. Inside the mansion, art show viewers will be entertained by the Frank Paul Trio and Generations Sax Quartet.

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The music lineup in the festival’s tent begins at 12:30 p.m. with the Dukpah African Drum & Dance Troupe, a Brockton-based music school and performing group led by Liberian native David Kaipu, the Hockomock Jazz Quartet, and Bird Mancini, Eclectic & Zydeco, a Boston-based accordion and guitar rock duo.

Children’s activities include “The Cookie Monster Kitchen” where Deborah Fayne of Dolce Cupcakes will help children make sunflower cookies. Easton Community Access Television will host the “Animation Station” behind the mansion, where youngster will be invited to draw cartoons and take part in the “Children’s Paint Party” — coloring in that big outdoor canvas.

Inside the estate’s stable, The Children’s Museum in Easton will direct a lantern-making workshop for the event’s “Lantern Parade” at the close of the festival. Children’s entertainer Roger Tincknell will also perform there.

That’s not all. Youngsters are also invited to take part in the “Fairy House Scavenger Hunt,” searching for “fairy houses” made from natural materials and secreted among the trees of the property. The Easton Garden Club will construct the houses; high school students will help children find them. The nature dwellings will be left behind on the property for others to discover afterwards.

Visitors can take walking tours of the estate grounds and board shuttle buses to open houses at some of the nearby historical buildings and gardens. And since the grounds include some ponds, canoes will be available for a paddle on Shovel Shop Pond.

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As for food, vendors will be available, but visitors are welcome to bring lunch and enjoy a picnic on the grounds.

Governor Oliver Ames Estate grand opening; 35 Oliver St., Easton; June 29, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Free; www.thetrustees.org.


Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.