Back to the frontier

April 21, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

BIG POOL - People will get a chance to step back into the 18th century today through Sunday at Fort Frederick State Park with the 11th annual 18th Century Market Fair.

The event includes more than 150 sutlers and several 18th-century firearms demonstrations, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

About 4,000 people attended last year's market fair, and park historian Steve Robertson expects even more people this year.

The event is hosted by the park and sponsored by The Friends of Fort Frederick State Park.

The nonprofit Friends helps raise money for programs at the park, said Robert Weaver, vice president. The group will sell $5 raffle tickets for chances to win period-correct rifles and shotguns.


The entertainment acts added last year to make the event more like a real 18th-century fair will return this year, Robertson said.

Faire Wynds, from Ohio, does magic shows and performs music by playing drinking glasses, Robertson said. The glasses are filled with various levels of water and a wet finger run around their rims to achieve different tones.

There also will be fire eating and puppet shows.

The slack rope walker "Signora Bella" is returning, Robertson said. She juggles and brings a dose of humor, he said.

"There's actually a lot of interaction with the visitors by both of these entertainers," Robertson said.

While the term "rifle frolic" was dropped from the event last year, there will be settler and soldier re-enactors target shooting noncompetitively on the firing range with flintlock rifles and muskets, Robertson said.

Firearms demonstrations are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sutlers will be selling 18th-century items such as clothing, firearms, swords, knives, tinware and furniture, the latter of which is mostly modern reproductions, he said.

Items made of horn, the 18th-century version of plastic, also will be for sale, Robertson said.

People could find any items they would need to return to the market the following year in 18th-century garb and participate in the encampment, he said.

In addition to the sutlers camping, about 300 people dressed in clothing from the era and using equipment from that time will be camped near the fort.

For example, campers must use tents from the target time period, which would have been made of linen or cotton and could have been wedged, marquee or wall tents, Robertson said.

Visitors can walk around the camp to get an idea of life between 1730 and 1790, Robertson said.

1730 is about the time this part of Maryland was settled, and 1790 is when the state put the fort up for public auction, Robertson said. By then the frontier had moved further west and the fort was no longer needed. The fort became a farm.

The fort, about 17 miles west of Hagerstown, was built in 1756 by the colony of Maryland to defend the western frontier from French, Delaware and Shawnee raiding parties during the French and Indian War, Robertson said.

Built to house 200 men comfortably, the fort would be home at times to more or fewer men depending on how much Delaware and Shawnee activity there was in the area, Robertson said.

There were about 500 to 600 troops at the fort in 1758 when an army gathered to attack Fort Duquesne, a French fort where Pittsburgh is today, he said.

From 1778 to 1783, during the American Revolutionary War, Americans held British prisoners at the fort, Robertson said.

If you go ...

WHAT: 11th annual 18th Century Market Fair

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday, April 23; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 24.

WHERE: Fort Frederick State Park, 11100 Fort Frederick Road near Big Pool.

COST: $4 per person. Children in a car seat or stroller get in free.

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 70 west to exit 12 at Md. 56 (Big Pool). Turn left onto Md. 56. Go one mile. The park entrance is on the right.

For more information, call Fort Frederick at 301-842-2155.

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