Callands Festival
Artisans displaying their crafts at the Fall Festival

News and Events

Callands Festival: A National Legacy

Quiet and serene, the Callands Clerk’s Office and Courthouse see few visitors throughout the year. Birds nest in nearby trees and squirrels scamper across the lawns and into fields. Hoping to share these two county treasures, Historical Society member James M. “Mack” Doss, with the help of society vice president Frances Hallam Hurt, organized the first Callands Festival in 1980.

Sponsored by the Pittsylvania Historical Society, the festival is often called the Autumn Potpourri and depicts colonial court days when men rode in from all over the country to tend to business, purchase goods, and share tales and opinions.

The clerk’s office was built around 1770 after Pittsylvania County was cut from Halifax County in 1767. In 1966, the building was given to the people of Pittsylvania County by owners Landon E. Oakes and J. Clyde Oakes to be maintained for all to enjoy as the first official building after Pittsylvania became a county in June 1767. After donation by the Oakes brothers, the clerk’s office was restored to beauty and architectural authenticity by the Chatham Garden Club.

Vendors spread out over more than an acre offering a variety of handmade crafts. Masters of their trade are weaving, spinning, blacksmithing, wood carving, hatchet throwing, and testing black power rifle marksmanship. Toe-tapping music by talented local musicians delights the crowd, a few of whom have been known from time to time to join the flavor of the day by dancing. Also on the lawn of the clerk’s office are apple butter making and a hand-cranked demonstration and sampling of apple cider.

Located across the road from the Callands clerk’s office is a building traditionally referred to as the Courthouse and Gaol, although its original use is inconclusive. It is believed to have been a built in 1773. In later years it was operated as a store. It was donated to the county by the Stegall family and was restored by the Pittsylvania Historical Society with funds from the Board of Supervisors. On festival day inside and outside are teaming with vendors offering everything from holiday bows, to dolls, to wreaths, to floral arrangements and furniture.

A National Legacy

The Callands Festival stepped from the archives of treasured local history onto the platform of national acclaim in 2002 by being named a “Local Legacy” by the Library of Congress. The Local Legacies Project marks the documentation of American culture and historical heritage through a wealth of information contributed by people from all walks of life.

The project includes 1,300 entries which will become part of collections in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The annual October Callands Festival was submitted for inclusion at the request of Fifth District Congressman Virgil H. Goode Jr.

Images from the Callands Festival

Callands Musicians