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Colonial Farm and Craft Fair brings 18th century to life

September 23, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

WELSH RUN, Pa. - To live in the Welsh Run area during the middle of the 18th century was to live in a constant state of terror, said Walter Powell, executive director of the Conococheague Institute.

Between 1756 and 1763, the French and the British and their Native American allies were fighting one another over who would control the expansion of North America. Therefore, settlers during that time lived in constant fear of being attacked by Native Americans.

"During the French and Indian War (the Conococheague Valley) was truly the frontier," Powell said.

To promote the history of the Conococheague Valley, the Conococheague Institute held its third annual Colonial Farm and Craft Fair beginning Saturday and continuing today at Rock Hill Farm in Welsh Run.

"I think the historian that's well-known for his work on PBS documentaries, David McCullough, says it best: 'America desperately needs to watch less television and read more about our past in order to learn more about who we are," Powell said about the purpose of the fair.

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"It's important to remind people and our educators about the history of Pennsylvania," Powell said.

To show what life was like in the region in the mid-18th century, re-enactors demonstrated what people did during the time period.

Dressed as a journeyman carpenter in patched breeches, Tad Miller of Newburg, Pa., demonstrated the use of a shaving horse machine.

"It's being used as a third hand when I have a tool that I need both hands for," said Miller, who was using the machine to make sticks for the 19th century game called graces.

Powell was dressed as a French Marine in a company waist coast and breeches.

Melanie Desmond of Marion, Pa., spun flax straw into linen, a fabric used widely in the 18th century.

"Almost all European countries have a tradition of linen," said Desmond, who was portraying a civilian in the 1750s. "Ireland was the source of linen for colonies in the 18th century."

Linen was used for anything from clothing and bed sheets to tents and ship sails, Desmond said.

"In the 1750s, there are accounts of people harvesting flax and being attacked by Indians," Desmond said.

In addition to re-enactors, the fair features three historical buildings on the Rock Hill Farm property, 18th century style dress and food, lectures every hour by authors and historians and vendor displays.

Kristin Taylor of Greencastle, Pa., displayed her pottery and hand-made beads at the fair.

"This is my third year," she said. "I really like the setting (and) I love looking up at these old historical buildings."

"It's definitely been worthwhile for me to do this," said Taylor, adding that the amount of activities at the fair seems to increase each year.

Sweet and sour meatballs, ham and bean soup, pumpkin soup and apple crisp were just some of the 18th century style foods brought the fair by personal chef Iris Bard.

Bard and her assistant, Cynthia Lawrence-Fink, researched the food during the 1750s.

"Cynthia is an authority - she used to make clothing for the period for museums," Bard said.

It was the second year that Thomas Marquiss and his wife, Charlene, attended the colonial fair.

"I like the re-enactors and the history they are able to tell you at a personal level and the fact that it happened in this general area," said Thomas, who lives in Greencastle.

The money raised through the fair this weekend will go toward maintaining the buildings on the Rock Hill Farm property, education programs and the $200,000 visitors center project, Powell said.

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