Fair features wares from 18th century

  • From left, Alexander Good, Chris Anderson and Jackson O'Reily perform the changing of the guard at the main gate to Fort Frederick Saturday during the 16 Annual Market Fair.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer,

BIG POOL -- Paul Irish trod across the grounds of Fort Frederick State Park Saturday afternoon wearing a cocked hat, breeches and stockings and tugging a wooden wagon behind him.

Inside the wagon were his daughter, Hannah Irish, 5, and her friend, Madelein Anderson, 7, each dressed in a petticoat and ankle-length skirt.

Irish and the girls blended among the hundreds of French and Indian War-era re-enactors gathered Saturday at the park for the 16th annual 18th Century Market Fair. The fair opened Thursday and continues today.

Irish, 42, of Millbury, Mass., said he attended the event five years ago when Hannah was just 6 months old. This year, his family accompanied a friend who owns Bethlehem Trading Post, a sutler, or supplier, of 18th-century packs and bags.

"This is really the biggest 18th-century trade fair on the East Coast," Irish said. "It's a beautiful site and it's a great time of the year to come down to Maryland."


Hannah and Madelein said they enjoy re-enacting and wearing period dress, though Madelein reported her stays -- a corset like undergarment -- were the exception.

"The stays are too tight," she said.

About 150 sutlers set up shop on the park grounds, selling everything from period redware to flintlock muskets. Park ranger Steve Robertson said around 700 people were camping at the park and more than 4,000 visitors were expected throughout the course of the event.

Robertson said the stone structure at Fort Frederick was erected in 1756 to protect English settlers from French and Indian raiding parties and to serve as a base of supplies for attacking the French.

"What we're doing is trying to replicate 18th-century craft fairs. People would gather and have entertainment and people selling things," Robertson said. "While fairs may not have happened here on this land because the area was not populous at the time, the fair does give people an idea of 18th-century life."

The fair is a joint effort of the park and the nonprofit organization Friends of Fort Frederick State Park. Robertson said the last couple of years, Friends of the Park has raised about $15,000 through sutler registration fees. Those proceeds are used toward supplies for educational programs. In addition, the park brings in about another $15,000 through visitor and camping fees at the event, which goes to general state revenue.

Jen Dolan, 44, and her husband, Ed Wurmb, 47, of Fairplay, said they live in a house built in the late 1700s.

"We like getting a feel for what was going on at the time when our house was built. I think you get a real feel what it was like back then," Dolan said. "They obviously do everything they can to make it pretty darn authentic."

If You Go

What: 18th Century Market Fair

When: Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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

Cost: $4; $2 for ages 6 to 12; free for ages 5 and younger

The Herald-Mail Articles