Every year up in Springfield, Ohio, there is a wonderful living history event called The Fair at New Boston. Held on the site of the Battle of Peckuwe, the Shawnee villages of Peckuwe and Kispoko, and later the town of New Boston, this fair presents life as it was between 1790 and 1810 in the new United States. There is an area for the milita, with a full-sized Revolutionary War cannon and a bronze British light six-pounder both being demonstrated (very loudly!) throughout each day. An area for tents with a bit of “what life was like” in an encampment and among the people, an Indian village, and of course many artisans and shopkeepers displaying their wares. There’s even entertainment at the Cheapside stage and various famous frontiersmen to be seen throughout the day.
The day we went to the fair was hot. I mean hot. As it turns out, it’s a good thing we didn’t wait until Sunday to go, as Sunday was even hotter still, and had a heat warning out for much of the area. As a result, we didn’t wander through the milita encampment, nor did we go through the woods to the Indian village – though we’ve done both before and thoroughly enjoyed them. I took some photos of things we did wind up seeing, not including the magician in Cheapside (where we went to sit in the sparse shade for a bit!).
Children play under the eyes of the adults near the tents of the militia camp by the Hertzler House (museum).
The first people we saw were the Drewry Family, who make historical reproduction instruments as well as play them beautifully. In the photo they are playing a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace, and had gone into an upbeat jig as we were leaving.
A few tents down, we found quite a few things I loved – including this hat that was much like one worn in Horatio Hornblower, when they go ashore in Algeria for supplies only to discover it is a plague town. The US title for the episode was The Fire Ships. Yeah – can you tell I sort of liked this series? Anyway, what you can’t see id the black band around the hat, and the fact it’s probably supposed to have the brim a bit lower – but there really wasn’t much room in the shop! Plus, we’d only just arrived, but you can tell my hair is already getting scraggly with the heat, and my face and neck are flushed. Told you it was awfully hot there!
While waiting in line for a sarsparilla, I looked over and kind of wished I was in the next tent – where this lovely lady was serving cold watermelon, freshly sliced!
Another of the larger shops was Pumpkintown Primitives, owned by this man (J. David Gillespie) and his wife (in the painting behind him). They are both very talented painters, creating historically accurate miniatures. Think the small “likenesses” of Fitzwilliam Darcy and George Wickham that Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle see when touring Pemberley. This is really something I would like done with Hims and me!
Yes, they do have oxen. We were told that one of them got loose during the night and they had to go search the woods for it before the fair opened Saturday morning! Last year, one was pulling a huge cart around, guided by two people. This year we only saw one being led around by this lady. It was a good reminder to me to keep my eyes at least partially on the ground in front of me!
One of Hims’ favorite places is the blacksmith tent. This year, it looked as though the two seasoned smiths were teaching a young apprentice the trade. I hate to say it, but it was too hot for me to stand there, and while I was just going to wander off close by and leave Hims to watch, Hims decided to forgo more smithy-watching and stay with me. I mean, I’m happy he wanted to stay with me, but I hate that he didn’t get to watch more of the blacksmiths at work. He loves that.
Yes, it was hot – but the flame-warmed air inside the paper-and-ink balloons were hotter still!
I saw this gentleman, and knew one of my favorite tents was up ahead – the press gang tent for the HMS Acasta! The Acasta men are a wonderful living history group based on the real life frigate, HMS Acasta, which was launched May 14, 1797, and broken up New Year’s Day, 1821. They travel to different events, teaching about life in the British Navy at that time by living as close as possible to the life of a sailor. I can’t do it justice – go to their website and take a look around. Seriously, it’s just amazing!
The sign says:
God Save the King
of Old England
If you love your COUNTRY, and your LIBERTY, now is the Time to shew your Love. REPAIR, All who have good Hearts, who love their KING, their COUNTRY, and RELIGION, who hate the FRENCH, and curse the POPE,
Capt. Robt. Freymann
of His Majesty’s Ship ACASTA
BOUNTIES will be given by His MAJESTY, in Addition to Two Months Advance
To Able Seamen _________Five Pounds
To Ordinary Seamen__Two Pounds, Ten Shillings
To Landmen____Thirty Shillings
What ship’s rations looked like. The posting below explains how much of each the men received on different days of the week. (Click on it to enlarge so you can read it better!)
Officer: What is your experience on board a ship, sir?
Officer: Your experience aboard a ship, sir! Have you any?
Mom: Have you ever been on a boat?
Kid: Oh! No, no boat.
(It had me laughing, it was just so perfectly timed.)
And of course the upper class has their own lovely tent, complete with refreshments and comfortable chairs. And thick rugs on the ground!
Again, it was too bad the heat was ridiculous that day. I love spending the day there and seeing all the demonstrations and just relaxing. The first year we went, it was ridiculously humid, and ended with us getting soaked to the bone with many other fair-goers when a storm decided to help out and cool us off! I know I was wishing for some rain this year, too!
The Ohio Renaissance Faire is going on through October, and we’ve planned tentatively to go when the weather gets a bit cooler. So yes, there will probably be photos from that, too. You’ve been warned!