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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ft. Frederick Market Fair

Ft. Frederick in Maryland was built during the French and Indian War in the late 1750's after the British were defeated in Western Pennsylvania in 1754.  It was a place for British soldiers to garrison and where settlers could take refuge during the many Indian attacks spurred on by the French.  You can read more about its history HERE.

We arrived at the Fort for an entirely different reason:  Shopping!  Each Spring for the past 20 years sutlers (people who followed an army and sold provisions to the soldiers) have set up tents to hawk their 18th-century wares in this bucolic setting.  Everyone--men, women, children--dress in authentic clothing....
(To enlarge photos, click on them)

The center photo is what we saw when we arrived, but this was just a smattering of what was to come.  We were soon to learn there were 140 tents set up throughout the grounds just for the sutlers.

There must have been at least a hundred more tents to house everyone....

We began our trek through the lines of tents.  I especially loved all the clothing.  There was fabric and buttons, stockings, ribbons, corsets, ready-made clothing--everything a person might need....

And wigs for men and women....

I loved the hats they wore back then.  The lady below just sold me some soap and some candy to Ken.  There were puppets and all kinds of feathers including turkey tail feathers....

There were copper pots and guns with all the necessary equipment and painted floor cloths....

Baskets and looms for making woven belts and straps and Jefferson writing desks and rocking chairs with built-in fans you operate by pumping the paddle with your foot....

There was also entertainment.  Unfortunately, it was a very windy day so I've only included a short video of the fiddler, Robert Mouland....
To get a better listen to Mr. Mouland's excellent musicianship go to his Website.  

An 18th-Century traveling circus, Faire Wynds, displayed oddities....
There was a dried-up rat body claiming to be the very rat that started the plague, the skin of the snake from the Garden of Eden, and several other grotesque oddities, all to delight and horrify the children in attendance.  We were treated beforehand to a playing of the Water Glass Harp by Mr. Scites.  Again, the wind interfered so this is a short clip....
You can hear a better presentation at his website.

I found this excellent video on YouTube of period music to entertain you while you read the rest of this post....
A stop for lunch was much appreciated.  I needed to SIT DOWN after walking and standing about for 2 hours....

I was so hungry I didn't think to take a photo, so I will have to tell you just how good it was.  We had the Beef Platter with the Baked Apple and Roasted Corn.  It came with a slice of fresh-baked bread.  We topped it off with a bottle of homemade lemonade.  I would have gone back for the beignets later, but the sky was darkening and it was at least a half-mile walk back to the car.  

After lunch it was back to shopping.  I was only going to buy one sheep, but Ken insisted I buy a flock.  Here they are grazing in the gloaming after all the villagers have headed home for the evening....

I also loved the antique dishes and redware pottery....

There was plenty of wool and yarn for sale....

The re-enacters were set up near the Fort....
Unfortunately, we were not near the Fort when they were doing their re-enactments.  If you are interested, there are three videos on YouTube taken by Mike Beliveau.  This one was made in 2012 and includes some history and a tour of the Fort (I highly recommend viewing it).  The other two, made in 2013, focus more on the Market Fair, and can be found HERE and HERE.

This was an interesting display we came upon.  I did not realize that officers had such comforts while journeying....

As we made our way out I stopped in Lauren Muney's Silhouettes By Hand tent.  I told her I'd bring Olivia here in a few years.  She had a very interesting display on Physiognomy....
She said Physiognomy dates back to 5th century BC and was quite popular during the 18th-century as a means to prejudge and categorize people.  I am glad it is no longer practiced!

As we made our way out of the village we encountered Silas Moore, the Ratcatcher....
It was his job to go through the encampment and catch the rats each morning.  Yes, that is a live rat in his cage.

We made it back to the car well before the deluge of rain that would come later.  The drive through the surrounding countryside helped the 18th century linger a little longer....


  1. What a wonderful fair, Cathy! My husband and I will have to visit Ft Frederick sometime as we have never been. There was so much to see and do--thank you for sharing. The nose chart looks quite interesting--my, my don't we judge for the strangest reasons? I imagine in a couple hundred years there will be a fair depicting what we judge others for now! I imagine I would have had to show restraint regarding the beautiful pottery available. The blue and white dishes are quite lovely. I enjoyed the musicians you featured and will have to go to the other links later. Have a nice evening. ♥

    1. When you go back you'll see I rearranged some things and fixed some grammatical errors! If you go, allow the whole day so you can take breaks. We breezed through some things because of the impending rain and because of feeling tired. A good cup of tea would have revived me, though--and those beignets. If you do go next year, let me know. You'll have to stop in for a visit.

  2. Let's see if you can get my comment this way. I enjoyed visiting the fair with you. What a lot to see! I wonder who buys some of that more impractical stuff .. that we would no longer be using. Someone must or they wouldn't produce it. I like your sheep ! As far as the noses, I can just hear such a thing discussed in a Jane Austen setting. I remember how they would dissect handwriting in a letter received! Have a good week!

    1. Your comment arrived in my mail box, just as it should. I think a lot of the re-enacters shopped. They have other gatherings throughout the year, and perhaps there are collectors of such items. Ken overheard some people (not re-enacters) talking they'd driven up from Florida just to attend this event.

  3. Great review of the faire, Cathy. I had thought it would be a lovely day out, but then I was reminded of some obligations and there was that nasty threat of bad weather. Perhaps next year! There are may fairs and events each spring it can be hard to chose but this one looks lovely. I'm glad the storm held off for you.
    Our early countrymen were very creative and it is interesting to see those early inventions for things we just take for granted - like electric or battery run fans!
    Inventive occupations too - rat catcher - oh my.
    I love that you have a new flock of sheep! It reminds me that the MD Sheep and Wool Festival is this coming weekend at the Howard Co Fairgrounds. The excitement of it all makes me want to buy up needles and wool and display them in a wonderful new basket, even though I have not knit in forever! So perhaps I will forego the temptation!

    1. Thank you Elaine. I know what you mean about the many choices of events. This was the first time we'd gone to the Market Fair and it was only because Ken has been reading books about General Braddock and the French and Indian War. We to make it a regular practice to go to the Frederick Garden and House Tour each May and the Christmas House tour in December. We've been to the Spring and Autumn tours of Waterford, VA. Have you ever been there? I highly recommend it, but go on a Friday, not the weekend. It's the crowds that usually keep me away from most of the events, so we always pick those that include a weekday when possible.

  4. That looks a wonderful day out and such a large choice of different and unusual things to buy! I enjoyed the videos it bought it more to life! Sarah x

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the videos. I was glad to find them since I'd missed the re-enactments.

  5. Cathy, you're a born teacher! I enjoy ALL your posts but most especially the ones like today's, where you describe your travels to historic spots, fairs, festivals etc. I remember spending over 2 hours just reading, watching videos and checking links you included on your visit to the Smithsonian Lithuanian Festival. So educational, and they always make me wish I'd been along on the visit. I've added a lot of entries to my List of Places to Visit Someday too. Favorite photo today is the one with your sheep and the pink background - beautiful. Oh, forgot to ask - how is your needle-felting coming along? PS - what a spot you live in. I never knew Maryland was so picturesque! Your photos often remind me of the movie "Giant" when Elizabeth Taylor meets Rock Hudson in the Maryland horse country. Is that where you and Ken are? :>)

    1. Thank you, Janet. We're in Western Maryland. Horse country is more north of Baltimore in Harford County. That is where Runaway Bride was filmed. I haven't attempted my needle felting project yet. This is what I do when I feel hesitant about my ability to make something look like I want it to (procrastinate). I need to find a book with exact directions to follow. Right now gardening has captured my attention. Once we get the yard in shape for the season I'll get started on my needle felting, if only to be able to show it to you! :-) It helps to have someone interested. ♡

  6. I should have been a re-enacter, this is just my cup of tea! I can never get enough of this type of event, used to do a similar one in Pennsylvania, called Penns Colony. Oh what fun it is to dress the part! I have loved every bit of this post. Such a marvelous day you had, and that meal sounds scrumptious. I will follow these links you provide, as this is of great interest to me, especially OLDE music. I've actually been in Frederick Maryland many times, how did I miss this??!!

    1. Hi Jeri! Ft. Frederick is actually in the next county, 15 minutes west of Hagerstown, so you would not have been aware of it by just coming here. I would love to live in Williamsburg (VA) as a re-enacter. Have you been there? We splurged one Christmas and rented one of the colonial houses within the historic area for two nights after Christmas. If my family (i.e. my 3 teenaged sons) would have allowed it I would have had us dress the part! :-) I'll have to check out Penns Colony. My husband and I attended a Jane Austen Ball in Pittsburgh a few years ago. I found a puffy-sleeved long dress in a second hand store and turned it into a high-waisted Regency gown. He bought a short-jacketed tuxedo with tails and with a cravat and vest he looked the part. They had a caller for the dances, so we were able to follow the steps with the help of the experienced dancers. Great fun! You'd probably love Sturbridge Village in MA, too. Check out my post about it in my Archives. If you're ever in Frederick again, you must stop in (and stay the night--we have lots of empty bedrooms).


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