Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fort Frederick Market Fair

If there had been events like this when I was in high school, I might have been more interested in American history. As it was, the history professor/football coach whose teaching style consisted of "Read chapters 1 & 2" while he worked on his strategy for the game just didn't cut it.

The 15th Annual Market Fair at Fort Frederick, whose website does not do it justice, was so much fun, we considered going back again today.

135 sutlers in period costume, and at least as many reenactors who were merely camping, pitched rows of white canvas tents that filled the grounds surrounding the fort.

Handmade knives, pottery, tinware, furs, muskets, furniture, treenware, leather accessories, and period clothing were sold by makers who were dressed as colonists, frontiersmen, Indians (some very scantily clad—my mom was thrilled), and Highlanders from the time period of the French and Indian War.

I snapped a photo of two men in Scottish Highlander attire for Ethan—a woodworker who loves kilts. Ethan, I want you to know that I was forced to listen to a naughty Scottish joke in order to get this photo for you.

A Crocodile Dundee look-alike knife maker and other head turners were everywhere. One lady pulled a heavy wooden cart, which was loaded with her wares.

Now, maybe it's just me, but if you're going to be a reenactor and you can wear any outfit or pretend to be any historical person you want, why would you voluntarily choose to be "Ox Cart-Pulling Lady"? Seriously. If I were to be a reenactor, there would be some kind of crown involved.

I met several woodworkers, one of whom was Brian Graham, of Patapsco Valley Woodwright, who builds and sells furniture and handtools and sells antique tools (I bought three handplanes). He worked at a shaving horse that he had made from tiger maple.

Another furniture maker, Dennis Bork, of Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd., set up a double size tent as a showpiece for his cupboards, writing slopes, bed, tables, chairs and other beautifully-made pieces.

Ralph Aument of Fort Augusta Woodworking displayed sawbuck tables, settles, chests, and other pieces and showed me some of his antique tools, including a strap hammer and brace from Colonial Williamsburg.

Richard Toone, of Living History Shop, makes authentic campaign furniture. Some of his pieces can be seen at Monticello, Mt. Vernon,
Yorktown, and the Smithsonian. Richard talked to me at length about joinery methods and historical facts about his furniture. My partner had to drag me out of his tent.

I think my history teacher would be proud.