Fair at New Boston continues holiday weekend tradition

Ralph Arms talks to a family about Native American life at the Fair at New Boston Saturday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Ralph Arms talks to a family about Native American life at the Fair at New Boston Saturday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Smells of burning campfires, white tents as far as the eye could see and the air pierced by cannon fire, bagpipe music and the occasional shout of “huzzah” permeated George Rogers Clark Park on Saturday.

The Fair at New Boston was back in town.

The Labor Day weekend tradition continued as the year 1798 was recreated by history enthusiasts for the time travelers of the 21st Century at the 36th annual event. It continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Visitors in T-shirts, shorts and baseball caps mingled with re-enactors in as many as four layers of period costume, to shop, eat unusual foods such as Scotch eggs and view sights only seen in history books.

For Dan and Holly Hargraves of Wyoming, Ohio, near Cincinnati, it’s now a tradition.

The history enthusiasts who heard about the fair by accident, returned this year with sons Holden and Harry in tow. They find it an undiscovered gem.

“This is a robust experience. You get to hear the story tellers of the time and go through it,” said Dan Hargraves as the family explored the Native American village.

For the boys, ages 7 and 5, the highlights were the lemonade and buffalo burgers, but they also loved the village.

Holly Hargraves liked that it wasn’t as overcrowded as similar events and captures more recent history.

“This time of year everyone talks about the renaissance fairs. This is more relatable,” she said.

The Hargraves also discovered a new addition to the fair – a scavenger hunt that could be done through the smartphone app Snapchat or the old-fashioned way, on paper.

It’s the brainchild of Clark State new media student Priscilla Finchum and Northwestern High student Jackson Sielke.

Participants would look for 10 flags spread around the grounds bearing the likeness of a fair figure and could earn a prize. It’s a way to pique younger people’s interest.

“Kids don’t want to put down their phones, so this brings history to the kids,” said Finchum.

This also combines two of her favorite things – history and re-enacting.

She wears a Revolutionary War costume to honor her mom, who gave up her interest while raising Priscilla and her sister.

Now mom and daughter are back in their element. Priscilla was excited to see the participants playing the scavenger hunt and is plotting making it even bigger and better in the future.

A 21st Century current event was recognized at the opening ceremonies when the flag was placed at half-mast in honor of Sen. John McCain.

History of a different kind was rewarded with longevity awards for two longtime merchants.

Scott and Renee Rathfelder of Smiling Fox Forge of Fremont, Ohio, sell reproductions of 18th Century wares, including the largest selection of shoe buckles in the country, the owners claim.

They travel to several such events, but this is their preferred one.

“It’s the most historically correct fair in the country,” Scott Rathfelder said. “And it’s a fun event. Look at all the entertainment.”

Allen and Colleen Schroll set up at the second fair at New Boston when it was still in October and there was snow. Even a move from northwest Ohio to Missouri hasn’t stopped them from returning.

“We like the consistency and we’ve made friends we’ve seen here for over 30 years,” Colleen Schroll said.


What: The Fair at New Boston

Where: George Rogers Clark Park, 936 South Tecumseh Road, Springfield

When: Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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

More info: www.fairatnewboston.org

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