Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Independence Day

From Julie Herczeg, historical interpreter, and reenactor coordinator for 4th of July:

A lot of things have been happening here at the Frontier Culture Museum! Summer is a busy season for us, and we are in the middle of grain harvests, summer camps, and exhibit construction. But we took a break from all the hard work last week to celebrate the 4th of July with festivities, games, and tasty foods down on our American farms.

In previous years, we've invited a small group of reenactors to come participate in our 1812 militia, but we added more this year for all the other farms too. They came from as far away from New Hampshire to Ohio to North Carolina! We had so many activities happening that it was near impossible to photograph them all for you!
 There were Cherokee on the hill of our new American Indian exhibit, and colonial traders set up with their trade goods out on blankets. I never did find out what kind of meat they ended up cooking. Deer? Bear? Groundhog? Yum.

The Augusta County Militia set up in the Settlement cabin, interpreting their role in the American Revolution and local military history of that era. They stayed the night on straw-stuffed mattresses, trying to avoid our resident skunk. No one smelled out of the ordinary the following day, so I assume they were successful. (photo by Dana Shoaf)

Floating around was young George Washington, fresh in his profession as a land speculator, even before his role in starting the F&I War. Humble and dignified, he spoke to visitors all day about his life, and posed for many photos with youngsters. (photo by FCM)

Most of the action happened on the 1820s farm, sometimes lovingly referred to as the Bowman Farm by our staff. Due to the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812, we chose to represent a 4th of July celebration in the early part of the war. The 1812 version of the Augusta County Militia did firing demonstrations, mended uniforms, and drilled. At noon, signaled by the blow of a conch shell (the Bowmans have one listed in their inventory!) our esteemed 1850s schoolmaster, John "Pogue" Pagano, began the reading of the Declaration of Independence, which was followed by a series of period toasts. The 1770s Augusta County Militia guys even came up and joined their later counterparts for the ceremony, and fired off musket volleys throughout the toasting. (photos by the FCM and Jill Pesesky)

For the rest of the afternoon, visitors played games and held competitions. There were graces, hoop & stick, sack races, pie eating contests, watermelon seed spitting contests, and sawing contests. (photo by FCM)
 Visitors enjoyed the music of our own FCM band, Wilderness Road, on the porch of the 1820s farm, and joined by our friend, Cheryl, of the band Shen Fine. It was bittersweet, because it was the last day of work for our fiddler, Russ, before moving off and starting a new life in North Carolina. He assures me he'll be back for special events! Russ' son came in on the banjo for part of the day. (photo by Cheryl Tobler)

Down at the early American schoolhouse, we featured story telling and school lessons. I recall hearing a few brief moments of the school lesson, in which John Pagano told the students he did not appreciate the drawing of him next to a pile of animal dung on one of the slates, and called up the offending student for punishment.

There were many things occurring on the 1850s farm across the road. Visitors first met Mark Bingham, a period photographer, taking ambrotypes and tintypes. Many people took advantage of the opportunity and got their image struck. I had mine struck on three occasions that day! (photos by Julie Herczeg)

The Atlantic Guard Soldier's Aid Society and the Liberty Rifles portrayed civilians during the American Civil War up at the house. The FCM staff pulled down a bunch of hams from our meat house for them to cook up for the other reenactors. Best ham EVER! They cooked up a feast inside the house, too. One of the folks acted as a phrenologist. He measured people's heads, and made guesses about their intelligence, cleanliness, and character. We also had three Federal soldiers and one Confederate portraying various regiments involved in Jackson's 1862 Valley Campaign for the 150th anniversary. (photos by FCM)

There was buck dancing down at the barn too, and there may be a video of them floating around the FCM facebook or flickr page.

The big excitement for me was my tableaux vivants show. It is a 19th Century form of entertainment, in which a narrator describes a scene, and the curtain opens to the actors frozen in place. The translation is "living picture." In between scenes and narration, Marc Hermann and I sang shape note songs, and a couple times we featured Russ on the fiddle. Posted below is a scene from Cinderella, The Boston Tea Party, Dolly Madison Saving the Portrait of George Washington, and Noble Virginia Leads the Way.

While we rehearsed earlier in the day, a photographer from the Staunton News Leader took a couple pictures of Taylor Shelby and Paul Luks posing for the Dolly Madison/George Washington scene. The photo got picked up by the AP Press, and has now been featured around the United States!
Here we are on CBS:

Overall, we had 1,789 visitors come out, despite the blistering heat. Everyone had a fantastic time, and we can't wait for next year! Thank you to everyone for coming out and celebrating a historic 4th of July with us!

1 comment:

  1. We (the Cherokee) didn't cook anything.... Too hot! :-)