Sunday's rainy weather cut the first-ever Colonial Market Days short, but participants say they enjoyed a successful Saturday and will be back next year.
Organizers Casey and Abbie Samson of Lebanon called off Sunday's events at Abner Longley Park with a notice on the Colonial Market Days Facebook page, saying, “Unfortunately due to rain and storms we will be canceling the event for today to give our participants time to leave in a safe manner. Thank you all for your support and we will see you at Colonial Market Days 2020!”
A crowd estimate wasn't immediately available, but merchants felt it was good for a first-year event.
“For a first year show, they have a lot of the right elements in place," Potter Tracy Garland, co-owner with her husband Jay Henderson of J. Henderson Artifacts near Bedford, said Saturday. "It's well organized, they know what we need as merchants, and they did a good job with the media. I think they are really off to the right start.”
Garland and her husband do about a dozen events a year and have sold their historic stoneware reproductions at re-enactment events for about 20 years. Re-enactors Saturday were seen carrying beverages in Garland's mugs so as not to give away that they were drinking sodas.
“I really hope this takes off,” Garland said. “I'd like to come back every year. The turnout today was a little light, but for a first year show, it's not bad. You never know what to expect.”
Garland and her husband brought a couple of period boats they built and let children clamber over them as they sat next to the pottery tent.
“We brought boats to make this first year kind of special,” she said, explaining that the boats are especially popular at events where they can be floated. “On Aug. 1, we'll be in Kenosha, Wisc., right on Lake Michigan.”
Re-enactor Alex Dube, a camp cook for his group, delighted children in the boat by acting as a stowaway and firing blank rounds from his flint lock pistol as he escaped. He had a plump chicken roasting nearby on his aromatic camp fire.
His was not the only food wafting over the park. Scents from the Boy Scouts Troop 519 tent had visitors following their noses to hot dogs and hamburgers for sale by the Russiaville scouts, and an Asian food truck was also on hand.
Scores of re-enactors in period civilian and military costumes used the event as an opportunity to teach visitors details about early American history they might have missed in school. There were also 18 merchants and demonstrating craftsmen, including a rope maker who let children wind a rope and tie off a piece to play with.
Re-enactor John Markanich of Greenwood was in the Colonial army encampment in the uniform of Virginia State Forces. He held his 14-pound reproduction Spanish musket as he held it forth, regaling visitors with the story of the capture of the British fort at Vincennes by American forces.
Brittany Frederick and Hayley Havener of Ohio are partners in Dutch Milliners, a colonial era cosmetics supplier, and showed visitors that colonial women shunned suntans in favor of milky skin. The women wore white foundation, bright rouge and wigs to make their hair fuller.
A large maple tree split Friday while participants set up camp, much to the delight of the reenactors' and visiting children, who used the downed portion of the trunk Saturday as a natural playground. Children in colonial regalia and street wear scampered in and out of the leaves and tested their bravery running the length of the trunk barefoot.
They made hidey holes among the leaves and took turns being king of the tree. Ephraim Homkes of Lebanon and Addie Carreno of Illinois, even said they found a magic frog with which they played and then later released in a wet area nearby.
Ephraim's father, Erik, carried his youngest son in his arms, while his other children played on the tree, his youngest boys wearing dresses. Boys of the colonial period wore dresses until they were potty trained, Homkes said.
Re-enactor Rachel McVay of Jamestown took a moment out to sit in the shade with her infant and treat young children to orange popsicles that weren't very colonial but were welcomed in the afternoon heat by preschoolers wearing long dresses and head coverings.
2020 Colonial Market Days
Event organizer Casey Samson said plans are already being made for a 2020 Colonial Market Days.
“It will be the second weekend in June — June 13 and 14,” he said, adding next year's event is expected to be double the size of the inaugural Colonial Market Days. “We're going full speed ahead and looking forward to it.”
Samson said the decision to cancel Sunday's activities was “one of the hardest I've ever had to make.”
Samson said he was up and studying weather forecasts at 4:30 a.m. Sunday and went to the park around 6 a.m., and again around 7 a.m. before he called his board members and came to the decision to cancel in the interest of safety for the public and participants.
He estimated the event attracted more than 600 visitors and at least 200 re-enactors on Saturday. “We've already got at least 150-200 re-enactors registered for next year," he said. "We had a lot of re-enactors in plain clothes just scoping things out. I got 17 emails Saturday night from people wanting to get on the list of re-enactors for next year.”
Saturday's crowd was unusual in that a lot of people spent almost all day at the event. “That's something I've never see before," he said. "People usually stay for just a couple of hours and then leave. These people were inquisitive and wanted to learn about everything that was being shown and displayed.”
He expressed thanks to the Boone County REMC for a grant that paid for portable radios that facilitated communication among event volunteers and to the Boone County Convention and Visitors Bureau for funding that brought the entertainers to the event.