Recreating the 18th century means capturing the atmosphere – the sights, sounds, smells, touch and even tastes. When guests come through the gates of George Rogers Clark Park for the annual Fair at New Boston each Labor Day weekend, it’s like entering that long-ago world due to the sensory experience.
The smell of smoke from multiple open fires cooking sausage, turkey legs, corn and other items leads to tasting the delicacies; bagpipe music serenades those waiting in line to get into the fair and others create period music on the grounds; and then there’s the costumes, props and wares on view.
It’s what multiple people experienced on the first day of the 37th annual Fair at New Boston on Saturday. The event will continue 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the park, 930 S. Tecumseh Road.
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As each fair represents a different year, 2019 re-creates 1799 as Ohio progressed toward statehood and George Washington lived his final year.
Carol Williams of Park Lane munched on an ear of roasted corn, reasoning it was her version of Corn Flakes as it was still considered breakfast time. It was in part to make up for missing the recent Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival.
The visit was also fulfilling as it’s her first, despite living in the area for 14 years. Having helped transport senior groups to various museums, Williams found a flyer for the fair and was determined this year she was going, with son Gordon and granddaughters Kennadee and Guinevere in tow.
“I wanted to see how they represented the Colonial period,” said Williams, who collects Native American artifacts, which drew her to the timeframe. A past visit to Renaissance faire proved unsatisfying; this was more her style.
She was impressed, noting details such as some reenactors going barefoot, reasoning that shoes were more for winter wear. Williams hinted this could be a new annual tradition.
PHOTOS: 2019 The Fair at New Boston
Wittenberg University history student Riley Nagy was in his element as he tucked into a roast turkey leg. He’s attended multiple fairs.
“It’s part of the experience,” said Nagy, who is from St. Mary’s, Ohio. Besides, there aren’t many fast-food restaurants with such items on their menus.
Besides shopping and taking in the sights, visitors can interact, trying various 1799 games and amusements such as stilts, catching hoops on sticks and a variation of baseball or softball.
Some kids were even eager to go to Saturday school, the Rush Academie, where they were encouraged to learn to write with a quill pen.
As the fair strives for authenticity as a living history community, the Native American village always draws a crowd. People would stoop going through the narrow entrance to one dwelling.
“Imagine living in there,” one lady commented while her male companion noted how sturdy the material was.
Another woman mentioned they’d have to clear the gravel out of the inside before she’d sleep in it, while a young toddler found it a perfect playpen.
As dancing demonstrations of the period are part of the action, it was unusual to see one reenactor doing so while wearing a peg leg. In this case, it wasn’t just a prop.
Andy Shuirr is an actual above-the-knee amputee, but it’s never stopped his 18th-century version of cutting a rug, which he does when not attending to the Black Horse Tavern.
“It’s the same way you do,” he said of his movement.
He’s an example of the authenticity fair organizers and reenactors strive for, having created a whole background for his character, a war veteran injured in 1776.
“He’s one of those odd characters you’d see here. Not everybody was full back then,” Shuirr explained.
Maybe not in body, but certainly in spirit.
The fair will continue today, rain or shine. Only cash will be accepted for admission at the gate. For more information, go to www.fairatnewboston.org.