A Fair Day

I saw so much today!

I tagged along for the ride to The First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair with some friends from Greenbank Mill.

We were up pretty early packing it in for the ride. We had to be. For one, Heather planned on taking two of our sheep. And, we had to come correct for this, y’all. All three of us, Laurel, Heather and I, needed to be dressed in “period correct” clothing for this event. That included a shift, a top, a long skirt with apron, black boots, bonnets, knit stockings and pins-no buttons. The whole kit and kaboodle. I think I actually saw my street credibility wave me goodbye today, lol! But, it was actually fun to play dress up. And I’m so glad we did! I’ll get to why in a little bit.

The Fair took place on The Green in Dover, Delaware. When we got there, folks were still setting up. So, we joined the party!

Now, honestly, when I saw this, I was thinking, “No way that little, bitty thing is going to hold these two.”

See what I mean? This diva took two-TWO-to get her in there in the first place, lol.

But…once in, these two were pretty satisfied. Go figure.

See that? Laurel, the Sheep Whisperer is better than me. I’m scurred, lol! But she got right in there with the sheep. SO glad they’re experienced in that. I keep envisioning myself as a Sim crying, stomping my feet, emphatically gesturing toward the sky with various hand motions and yielding all kinds of unintelligible language if that were me in the middle of that pen. Thanks Laurel!

And much thanks to Rick for securing that thing. If they had broken out, I would have been the one running in the opposite direction, lol! I prefer my wool still. :)

Once the sheep were in and getting pets, Laurel started setting up the Gift Shop…

…while Heather made the sheep feel comfortable and entertained and informed visitors.

Again, it really amazed me that this pen held these two all day! This is about as far as she came. Wow. Don’t feel sorry for these two penned up…With the amount of visitors they got and all the kids that wanted to feed them today, they made out like bandits!

Mmmhmm. Bandit.

In other news, Heather brought her walking wheel along too.

It really didn’t want to cooperate the day. The wheel was a bit out of alignment, so the drive band kept coming off. But, it was a big attraction and she got some spun on it in spite of it’s little hang up.

There was some spinning.

And some hamming.

And some laughing…

…in between sips of coffee, of course! :)

And let me tell you, it was COLD out there today! I circulated the blood in my feet by walking around and seeing the sights.

Delaware 1st Regiment was the first group I saw when I set out. Now this is what I meant by I’m glad that we wore “period correct” clothing. Look at the dress! These folks are SO serious. And all of the costumes looked so elaborate and so gorgeous! I suppose everything has to look just as it did then.

Not only did I admire their clothes. I admired their fire too. ;)

Folks were able to participate in military drills today with the 1st Regiment.

I got to admit it, when I heard “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, I was tapping my feet. :)

Neighboring them, was Thistledown Fiber Guild. Under their tent, there was some spinning going on on the drop spindle.

And Gladys Shaw demonstrated weaving on a loom.

Isn’t that just gorgeous?!

Next up, and right next to Thistledown Fiber Guild were The Bessettes: Makers of Soaps and Painted Floor Cloths.

Did you know that painted floor cloths are a traditional American floor covering that goes back to the 18th century? I know I didn’t.

The soaps are all handcrafted and plant based.

I’ve really got this thing for men’s shaving stuff. It just looks so cool and it always smells so good! Ok. Moving on…

Yum!

I kept making my way around The Fair. On the other side of The Green I met The Blacksmith, Mike Radebach.

Ok, this table was cool. Watch this.

That was neat! And before long…he had company.

The Market Fair Minstrels came over to lend some tunes to his beat.

Before we move on though…how about a rose?

For you. :)

Now, I had a date at 10:30…

…to see this!

More fire! This is the traveling performer, Signora Bella, The Great Italian Equilibrist. Watch her juggle this.

Yes, please take a bow!

Do you know what this is?

This is a camera obscura. Come, let Brian Miller show you how this was used to create 18th and early 19th century silhouettes.

First, a piece of paper is put onto the glass.

When the light is obscured, one can see a full color image of the model on the paper in reverse.

This image is cut and used to create the silhouette when it is placed over a black sheet of paper. Pretty nice!

I can never forget this guy!

That’s The French Lacemaker.

And wife.

She’s a spinner. She has a walking wheel too. ;)

This is called bobbin lace. Beautiful, no?

I think the most interesting demonstration (well, besides ours ;) ), was The Brewer’s.

Now, to be honest, I don’t drink beer. My grandmother let me taste it once when I was about nine and nobody has had to worry about me ever since, lol! But this process and the history was fascinating! And it actually did smell really good.

Jeff Moore is a cultural interpreter for Killens Pond State Park. According to him (and history), beer was created because colonists couldn’t drink the water as is! It would make them sick. Those who were looking for wives during the time, would look for those who could brew beer. Talk about a help mate!

And this folks is where it all happens! But before I get to that, let me first talk about his equipment.

He made it all! Even these tree parts that he uses to brew beer were hollowed out with fire! What is it with fire? Lol.

But, everything is handmade. Even repairs are handmade!

That hardened stuff in there is called pitch. Pitch is made of pine sap!

It acts like a natural glue. I’m telling you. Nothing on this table was adulterated in any way.

How this works is, he pours it into the big bowl and mixes up the brew with the age old method of using his finger to test when it’s ready. Apparently, it has to heat to a certain point before it’s ready (wait until you see how he does that!). As colonists would have never had a thermometer as we do, they used their fingers to be able to brew beer properly. Mr. Moore knows when it’s ready by keeping track of how long he is able to keep his finger in the brew after it is heated! Once it’s hot enough, he uses the gourd to scoop it out and dump it into the large hollowed out tree trunk. The brew makes its way down the trunk and passes through a plant that acts like a filter before it goes into the bucket below.

Mr. Moore paused to use this rare opportunity to teach.

This man had company ALL day, lol!

Now on this fire there were stones. He uses them when they get sizzling hot to boil the brew and it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Wow! Wanna see it again? I did!

SO cool! I really enjoyed watching the whole process and I wasn’t alone!

Greenbank Mill had a great turn out as well.

These kids were really into the walking wheel. The walking wheel is spun by using one hand to turn the big wheel while the other hand drafts out the fiber and allows the twist to enter into the fiber. Heather got it to work a few times for the kiddies.

Then she showed them some period dye stuffs. Cochineal, madder, indigo, etc. It was like a traveling Please Touch Museum.

Let’s see…what else did I see?

Games.

Plein air painting.

And really cute, really cold, shivering puppies. Awww…Laurel is also a Dog Whisperer. :)

In between making the rounds, I did do some spinning demos here and there while freezing along with Laurel and Heather, lol.

And by the time our sheep had had enough pets, food and this pen, it was time to go.

Rick got the truck ready again.

And rounded up the sheep.

We made it!

It was a fair day, indeed, sniffle. :)

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Comments

  1. Oh how I wish I could have been there! But I almost feel I was, thanks to you! :)

  2. Wow! What an awesome post and I wish we had things like this here in Arizona. Thank you so much for sharing and allowing me to live vicariously through you and your adventures :)

    • Hey Tina! Well, this is a tiny state. Folks pass through here to get to the ones where things are happening, lol! So, I’m almost certain you are near at least three places where you could attend a fair. And probably bigger. That said, this was A LOT of fun even in little, old Delaware!

  3. Fantastic photos and fabulous commentary. Thank you!

  4. What an awesome share. I do so miss living on a farm with all the animals and such.

  5. Love it!!! The only photo missing is the one of you in costume. ;)

    • Ha ha! Okay, okay…I do have a photo that shows me from the waist up. I couldn’t get a good one of the whole costume though. I suppose if you can sit through 100+ photos, one more won’t hurt? Lol!

  6. What glorious fun! Thanks for letting us experience it vicariously through your photos!

    • Well, it’s nothing like traveling to exotic venues when you are only going maybe 40 minutes from home, lol. But it was very fun and I did enjoy telling about it! Makes me feel like I had a mini-vacation. ;)

  7. Great photos — and, yes, where is the one of you in costume?

  8. thanks so much for the photos of the day! I miss growing up in MA near old Sturbridge Village and going candle making and getting rock candy. Even as a teen when I visited Colonial Williamsburg, I vowed I would live in Virginia some day. I love the period costumes and how simple yet ingenious it all was back then. You are so lucky to get to participate – would love to see your costume too! Thanks again!

    • I am glad you enjoyed the photos! All of these activities are very new to me, actually. I love the commitment these events have to authenticity when telling these stories. It does have a surreal quality to it at times though. I added a pic at the end that shows part of my costume. Heather felt I was a little smaller than what she had clothes for. But it all worked out in the end. I do think that all aspects of this history would not always be pleasant for everyone. But, it is the history. And I think telling it this way where there is more of an opportunity to visualize history is more exciting than hearing it in a classroom was when I was in school.

  9. Too cool! I wish we had events like that here – although I suppose some days Mt. Vernon comes close.

  10. That looks like it was so much fun!

  11. I am so jealous! I wish that we had an event like that where I live! We have a civil war re-enactment event in the summer but there isn’t any where near the level of crafters and makers. I do love the costumes though! Thanks for taking all those pictures. It made me feel like I was there!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Longwool from the sheep at the mill.  Seems someone cleared us out at the Heritage Fair and then came back for even more at the spin in! She must knit pretty fast.   So, the volunteers [...]

  2. [...] you remember this lady?   I first met Maria Bessette at The First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair (that is still a mouthful).  I spoke to her then about the craft fair the mill was having and [...]

  3. […] upon a time, on the first Saturday in November,Well…every year actually, but this is a fair-y tale, so we begin with Once upon a time, […]

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