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April 18, 2008

CW to host three-day oxen symposium

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will host its first symposium on oxen and their crucial role as beasts of burden through the centuries. “Oxen in the Old and New Worlds,” consisting of lectures, demonstrations and panel discussions by oxen experts from America and Great Britain, will take place Oct. 30 – Nov. 1. The program is made possible in part through the generosity of Ronald R. and Janet S. Fox of Piqua, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Fox are members of Colonial Williamsburg’s Goodwin Society of donors and have been visiting Colonial Williamsburg since the 1970s. Mr. Fox’s longstanding interest in animals and livestock inspired the couple to help fund this event.

Oxen have long been a key feature of Colonial Williamsburg’s Rare Breeds program, which represents the animals that would have been a part of everyday life in 18th-century Virginia. Relied upon for strength and intelligence, as well as a food source, oxen were man’s main beasts of burden until the late 19th century, when horses and mules replaced them. The three-day symposium will examine the ways oxen were utilized in centuries past, as well as the practical applications of their use today.

Program highlights include:

  • A World View of Oxen. Paul Starkey of Reading, England, lectures on oxen in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
  • “Fae Twal Tae Nae Owsen!” (“From Twelve to No Oxen!”). Bob Powell, principal museums officer for the Highland Council’s Highland Museums, Scotland, discusses the use of oxen in the United Kingdom from circa 1750 to 1920.
  • Health and Care of the Ox. Donald Collins, D.V.M., of Berwick, Maine, presents a workshop at Colonial Williamsburg’s Great Hopes Plantation.
  • Tillers International: As Seen Through the Eyes of Oxen, presented by Richard Rosenberg, executive director of Tillers International in Scotts, Mich.
  • The History of Oxen in Nova Scotia, presented by Barry Hiltz of Ross Farm in New Ross, Nova Scotia.
  • Yokes and Oxen Equipment, presented by Tim Huppe of Farmington, New Hampshire.
  • Twentieth-Century Farming with Oxen, presented by Roby Flory, intern program coordinator, and Peter Watson, director of Howell Living History Farm, Mercer County Park Commission, Trenton, New Jersey.

    Live workshops, demonstrations with Colonial Williamsburg’s rare breed oxen and interactive discussion panels complete the three-day event. “Oxen in the New and Old Worlds” is open to the public for a registration fee of $195 per person, with optional dinner tickets for $55 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-603-0948, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Deborah Chapman at (757) 220-7255 or go online to

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” – a daily dramatic live street theater presentation – is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Michael E. Crandol
    (757) 220-7287

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