Fair at New Boston preview

The year 1800, complete with a nasty election, comes to life.

The mudslinging is getting brutal. It dominates the news, and the presidential election is still two months away.

One of the nastiest elections in U.S. history will be the talk of the 34th annual Fair at New Boston. In this case it’s the election of 1800, pitting Thomas Jefferson against John Adams.

“It was one of the ugliest and nastiest elections in history and will be discussed here,” said Pam Cottrel, Fair at New Boston marketing director. “Women couldn’t even vote yet, but they’ll be there to stir things up.”

That will be just one of the aspects of this annual glimpse into our local past when the Fair at New Boston returns, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4, at George Rogers Clark Park, 936 S. Tecumseh Road., Springfield.

Each Fair focuses on a particular historical year, with 1800 being this year’s.

Look for expansion in the Native American village with additional wigwams. Cottrel said many people’s impressions of Native American are of living are in tepees, which are covered by buffalo or deer hides. Wigwams were made of tree bark and more shaped, and they were also transitioning to log cabins during this period.

“We make efforts to show different dwellings,” Cottrel said. Also added will be a Native American drummer and skills demonstrations in the village.

This year’s battle re-enactments will feature a unit of mounted rangers from Indiana joining in and a full-size cannon. Battles are each afternoon.

Cottrel said to look for new entertainers as well as the popular tightrope walkers, traveling shows and the Liberty Dancers, doing the latest dances from the time.

A returning character is the Irish washerwoman, an indentured servant who has earned her freedom in 1800. But her new job of selling body parts robbed from graves isn’t much of a step up, although she prefers the term “medical supplier.”

Kids can find their own fun with games and puppet shows. Numerous schoolchildren attend the Fair on the educational day the Friday before opening to the public.

Cottrel said one of her favorite times is in the late afternoon. Anyone who wants to come but doesn’t want to fight the peak-time crowds can enjoy less crowded areas at that time.

Anytime is a chance to experience the efforts the all-volunteer group uses to put on the Fair, trying to give visitors a unique glimpse into the past.

“You don’t realize how many people there are helping put this on,” Cottrel said. “There are 600 in costume and many volunteers. It’s something we’re really proud of.”

How to go

What: The Fair at New Boston

Where: George Rogers Clark Park, 936 S. Tecumseh Road, Springfield

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4

Admission: Ages 12-adult $10; active military with ID $7; children ages 6-11 $3; and children ages 5 and younger free

More info: 937-882-9216 or www.fairatnewboston.org

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Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com.