Mount Hope Farm hosts 400th Thanksgiving anniversary event


Emily Dvareckas/The Hawks' Herald

Get ready for Mount Hope Farm’s upcoming celebration on Nov. 7. The farm’s goats are excited for visitors.

Grant Soedler, Herald Reporter

Check out Mount Hope Farm’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving!

This Sunday, Nov. 7, Mount Hope Farm is hosting a family event in partnership with Bristol’s Rogers Free Library. The celebration will consist of 10 different activities, including a Pokanoket tribal encampment where you can learn about the original residents of the Mount Hope Lands and take part in various activities like cooking, basket weaving and other crafts and herbal medicine discussions. Additionally, there will also be hay wagon rides that give an in-depth look at the Mount Hope Farm property, a visit to the site where Metacomet met with other tribal leaders in the region (King Philip’s Seat), a theatre presentation on the arriving of the Mayflower performed by improv students from Roger Williams University and a panel on what really happened during the first Thanksgiving.

Brenda Turchetta, the Executive Director of Mount Hope Farm, was able to share more information about the event in an interview with The Hawks’ Herald.

Who are you? What’s your connection to Mount Hope? How did you first get involved there?
I’m Brenda Turchetta. I was on the board of directors at Mount Hope for a number of years, but when they had to fill the position of Executive Director, since I really liked working there I decided I wanted to take the position. I’ve been the Executive Director since July 1st.

Can you give an overview of the history of Mount Hope Farm?
The land Mount Hope Farm resides on was originally inhabited by the Pokanoket tribe, though in 1680 the lands were bought by Nathaniel Byfield, a wealthy merchant. From him, the lands were passed through several hands over the years; even Governor Bradford owned it at a certain point. The Haffenrefer family lived there for quite a while but then they put it up for sale and the town took out taxpayer money and put the property on a trust. That’s how it operates today.

What is the nature of Mount Hope’s relationship with the first Thanksgiving?
There will be a panel discussion about the first Thanksgiving on Sunday night that goes more in depth about this, but to give a simple explanation, the first Thanksgiving didn’t take place there, but the Pokanoket lived there and some of them were involved in the first Thanksgiving.

Have you held this sort of event before? For how many years?
No, this is the first and only time due to it being the 400th anniversary.

Who are the indigenous people of the Mount Hope Area? How long have they resided here?
The situation is a bit complicated due to the way information has been passed down over the years, but Algonquin speaking people have lived in Rhode Island for over 12,000 years.

What kind of events will you be holding this weekend?
Members of the Pokanoket tribe will be there doing a campsite event where they display parts of their culture, including music, cooking, and living. In addition, we will be displaying animals, Mrs. Katz from the library will be coming down to share local Thanksgiving stories and host the children’s events, and improv students from RWU will be coming down to perform. Also taking place are book talks on Flight of the Sparrow and a story of a Puritan woman’s life living among native peoples. The last event will be a panel on the first Thanksgiving and how it happened by Donald Brown and David Weed.

Will there be any off-site events?
Yes, there will be a bus that people must pre-register for that will take people over to King Philip’s seat, where Pokanoket Sagamore Po Wauipi Neimpaug will be telling the history of his people.

What kind of special guests will be attending?
Members of the Pokanoket tribe will be sharing their thoughts on Thanksgiving, Mrs. Katz from the Rogers Free Library will be reading Thanksgiving related stories and local historians Donald Brown, Merrit Meyer, and David Weed will be hosting a panel on what really happened during the first Thanksgiving.

Are there any restrictions on what you can bring to this event?
There are no dogs and no alcohol permitted. Also, please don’t bring your own food as there will be vendors at the site.

Do tickets need to be purchased?
The event itself is free, so anyone can walk in and attend. There is pre-registration for certain events, such as the trip to King Philip’s seat, the book club discussion and the panel discussion at night due to COVID restrictions.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the event?
Just that I think it’s an important commemoration and there’s a lot of history to be learned. It’s always important to spend time outside and it’s a good opportunity to learn a lot about us and the Pokanokets.

Anyone interested in learning more about the event or registering for certain activities can check out the Mount Hope Farm website at