Early America to come to life at historic fort site
Close to 5,000 people traveled back in time for the inaugural Market Fair at the Fort Loudoun Historic Site in 2021, and more are expected to make the journey this year.
Three days of immersion in the 18th century will include some 60 artisans selling their wares, talking about what they do and demonstrating their skills, along with music, other entertainment and food.
The Fort Loudoun Market Fair will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 26, at 1720 N. Brooklyn Road, Fort Loudon, Pa.
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Admission is $5 for adults and free for those 17 and younger.
Proceeds benefit the Fort Loudon Historical Society, the nonprofit organization that manages the historic site and operates solely on donations and fundraisers.
The society is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the role of the frontier fort, which operated from 1756 to 1765 as a supply depot during the French and Indian War, plus a pre-Revolutionary War uprising known as the Black Boys Rebellion.
Artisans, food and entertainment
“The size of the event makes the Market Fair one of the largest events in south-central Pennsylvania, but it is the uniqueness of the event that makes it special,” said Andrew Newman, Market Fair coordinator. “There are plenty of tractor shows, car shows, and carnivals in the area, but few events offer the visitor a chance to time-travel to a fair at a frontier village situated in the middle of scenic vistas.”
The tents set up on the grounds house a slice of early American life, including blacksmiths, tinsmiths, coopers, leatherworkers, glassblowers, gunmakers, carpenters, potters, tailors and painters.
“Not just any artisan can attend. The artisans are heavily juried and must make 90% of what they sell,” Newman said. “The result is a high-quality array of craftspeople who hail from all over the eastern United States.”
Visitors especially enjoy the exhibitors who demonstrate their trades, including Tin Man Roy (tinware), Steinhagen Pottery, Stone House History and cabinet maker Dave Morris.
“It may not be a surprise, but the most sought-after artisans are those making food for purchase, such as the Georgian Kitchen, Shortbread Exchange and Half Crown Bakehouse, who bakes bread using a woodfired bake oven,” Newman said.
There also will be modern food trucks on site, including Shuman's Concessions, Uncle Eddies BBQ, Jeni's Knife & Spork, Redneck Dogs, Edwards Kettlecorn and Antietam Dairy. The McConnellsburg Fire Department will be selling chicken on Saturday.
Early American and Celtic music will be performed by the Susquehanna Bucks on Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and the Susquehanna Travelers will perform Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
There will be three shows daily by the Faire Wynds Circus offering magic, comedy and fire-eating.
Historians Brady Cryzter, Mike Belevieu, Pam Bakker and Matt Wulff will discuss 18th century topics at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“Events like the Market Fair are inspiring to the soul,” Newman said. “Your senses are overloaded with the sights, sounds and smell. History is made tangible at the Market Fair. You can touch it!”
An upside to the COVID-19 pandemic
The first Market Fair was supposed to have been held in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans.
Organizers put it back on the schedule for 2021 and kept it there, when many similar events were cancelled.
“We saw many first-time visitors come to Fort Loudoun Historic Site, who in a normal year would have had something else going on,” Newman said. “Most folks loved the event, music, food and the site.”
More to do at the Fort Loudoun Historic Site
The Fort Loudoun Historic Site hosted "Across the Centuries" in May. The two-day event showcased 2,000 years of world history from the ancient Greeks and Romans to World War II and Vietnam.
Upcoming events include the Scottish Highland Gathering featuring Highland Games, Sept. 24 and 25; Allegheny Uprising, Nov. 12; and Fort Loudoun Christmas, Dec. 17.
“The site is run entirely by volunteers so there are plenty of opportunities to support events or work,” Newman said. “Maintaining a reconstructed fort and caring for a 200-acre site is a task for an all-volunteer organization.”
A lot of the work is done by a group known as the Wednesday Warriors. There are large work parties two or three times a year, and Abraxas Youth Services helps out twice a month.
Individuals or organizations who would like to lend a hand can contact Don Glasgow at email@example.com
Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org