Visit the 18th century

Market fair draws sutlers, re-enactors

Market fair draws sutlers, re-enactors

April 26, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

BIG POOL - Last weekend Kathy and Robert Bingaman were in the 1860s. This weekend they'll be in the mid-1700s.

They've discovered a way to get a taste of history without discovering time travel.

The Bingamans are a Williamsport-area couple who, in search of a hobby to enjoy together when their son Ryan grew up and moved out of the house, became re-enactors.

They will portray a British Colonial husband and wife traveling west to the frontier to resettle during Fort Frederick State Park's annual 18th Century Market Fair, which starts today and runs through Sunday.

Their characters probably would have come from the Frederick County, Md., area and would be looking to resettle in the Bedford, Pa., area, where land was cheaper and they could build a cabin in a relatively safe environment, Kathy Bingaman said.


At the market fair, they would gather provisions from sutlers for the next step in their journey, Fort Loudoun in Pennsylvania.

As for the re-enactors: Their wardrobe includes wool socks, her fustian (a cotton-linen blend) petticoat and long bed jacket, and his hunting frock. Kathy Bingaman takes with her a leather key basket, which traditionally held the keys to the cabinet that held the family's valuables such as silver, the good china and spices.

Robert Bingaman had a musket custom made about 20 years ago.

Ryan, now 30, became a history buff around age 4, and the family began taking vacations to historic places such as Williamsburg, Va.; Jamestown, Va.; Fort Macon, N.C.; Civil War battlefields; and Fort Frederick, Kathy Bingaman said.

During the early 1980s, Robert Bingaman had done some mountain man re-enacting, portraying a fur trader during the 1830s and 1840s. The couple began portraying Civil War-era characters in the early 1990s.

About seven years ago, the couple began dressing as period civilians at Fort Frederick's Market Fair. Robert Bingaman had been interested in the French and Indian War period for years, his wife said.

"The thing we enjoy the most about re-enacting is the research," said Kathy Bing-aman.

The Market Fair tries to take visitors back to the time from 1730 to 1790, when settlers were first inhabiting the area, said Steve Robertson, park historian. Settlers came from within Maryland, from Pennsylvania and from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and other European countries via treacherous months-long sailing voyages.

While an actual Market Fair probably didn't occur at Fort Frederick at that time, thanks to the fort's status as a state park, the area is undeveloped enough to resemble an 18th century setting, Robertson said.

Such fairs were in and around more urban, developed areas such as Annapolis, Baltimore and possibly as far west as Frederick, Md., Robertson said.

The area around the fort didn't have the population to sustain a market fair in the 18th century as the fort was a military setting before shutting down and becoming a farm in the 1790s, Robertson said.

The men who manned the fort were probably familiar with fairs because they tended to come from the east, he said.

This year's market fair will feature more musical entertainment during the weekend. New acts include a troubadour - John Durant from Braddock Heights, Md., playing a mandolin and singing 18th-century songs - and a strolling "Irish" musician playing 18th-century instruments such as a harp, said Steve Wood, president of Friends of Fort Frederick, co-sponsor of the event with Fort Frederick State Park.

Other entertainment includes magic shows and a slack-rope walker.

These kinds of acts would have been high entertainment for the time period, Robertson said.

Settlers would have worked sun up to sun down at their jobs and taking care of the home with chores such as chopping wood and preparing meals without modern conveniences.

A market fair would have been a rare treat.

If the weather is good, Robertson expects more than 4,000 people to visit the four-day event, he said. More than 130 sutlers and 500 to 700 re-enactors are expected. In addition to period wares, food will be sold, including baked goods from an 18th-century wood-fired oven.

Market fair schedule of events

· Today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit the sutlers, encampment and fort.

· Friday, April 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit the sutlers, encampment and fort.

Living history demonstrations, including musket-firing demonstration, inside the fort.

Faire Wynds, which performs magic and music, will perform throughout the day. Check at their tent near the fort gate for times.

· Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit the sutlers, encampment and fort.

10 a.m.: Flag-raising ceremony inside the fort.

10:30 a.m.: Faire Wynds

11 a.m.: Signora Bella, a slack-rope walker and juggler, performs near the food concession area

Noon: Auction of 18th Century items to benefit the Friends of Fort Frederick, in front of the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.

1 p.m.: Signora Bella

2 p.m.: Faire Wynds

3 p.m.: Signora Bella

4 p.m.: Faire Wynds

4:30 p.m.: Flag lowering ceremony inside the fort.

· Sunday, April 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visit the sutlers, encampment and fort.

10 a.m.: Flag-raising ceremony inside the fort.

10:30 a.m.: Faire Wynds

11:30 a.m.: Signora Bella

12:30 p.m.: Faire Wynds

1:30 p.m.: Signora Bella

2 p.m.: Faire Wynds

2:30 p.m.: Flag lowering ceremony inside the fort.

If you go ...

WHAT: 13th annual 18th Century Market Fair

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday, April 28; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 29

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

COST: $4; $2 for ages 7 to 12; free for ages 6 and younger

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.

MORE: For more information, call Fort Frederick State Park at 301-842-2155.

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