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"Soldiers of the Revolution" Re-Enactment, Aug. 1 and 2; PLUS New Reasons to Visit the Old Fort This Summer

by C. Clark
Tue, Jul 14th 2015 04:00 pm

(July 14, 2015) Youngstown, N.Y. - Old Fort Niagara is preparing for its annual "Soldiers of the Revolution" re-enactment during the weekend of August 1 and 2, which will include a colors ceremony, period music, 18th century games, kids recruitment activities and 2 p.m. battle re-enactments each day. The event will highlight the American Revolution on the New York Frontier and involves re-enactors from the region.

In addition, the fort's staff and volunteers are excited to share the summer's programs and activities with the public going on now through the end of August. Thanks to generous grants from the John R. Oishei Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation over the past six years, the fort employs more historic interpreters than ever before who help visitors better understand the fort's history and interpret the buildings, clothing, weapons, food, tools, games and other things from specific time periods.

"Old Fort Niagara appears to sit quietly and at the end of a winding road in Fort Niagara State Park," said Robert Emerson, Executive Director of Old Fort Niagara. "The truth is that it's far from quiet. Muskets fire hourly, cannons blast daily, fifes trill and drums beat, blacksmiths hammer, fires crackle and spark, flags flap, and visitors clamber up staircases and shout to others to come see what they see.

"When's the last time you were here?" he asked. "If it hasn't been since a 4th grade fieldtrip, it's time to come back and immerse yourself in living history!"


During the upcoming re-enactment, activities will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 6 p.m. The daily 2 p.m. battles will occur behind the Visitor Center where prisoners will be seized and marched into the fort, and visitors will be encouraged to follow the procession. At 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily, kids of all ages can enlist as rebels or loyalists and fight a mock battle using wooden muskets. The full schedule is as follows:

10 a.m.                       Formation and Colors Ceremony

10:15 a.m.                  Manual Exercise

10:30 a.m.                  Special Tour: Fort Niagara in the American Revolution

11:30 a.m.                  Recruiting for Kids - Enlist as a Rebel or Loyalist

Noon                          Artillery Firing Demonstration

1:00 p.m.                    Music of the American Revolution

1:30 p.m.                    Garrison Review and Firings

2:00 p.m.                    Battle Re-enactment

2:30 p.m.                    Prisoner Ransom

3:00 p.m.                    Recruiting for Kids - Enlist as a Rebel or Loyalist

3:30 p.m.                    18th Century Games

4, 5 & 6 p.m.               Musket Firing Demonstrations


The Officers Club, just outside the fort's footprint, will be open during "Soldiers of the Revolution" from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. for tours and access to the World War II display.



Old Fort Niagara is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in the summer, with admissions ending at 6:30 p.m. The summer program, going on now through August, dramatically portrays the lives of Fort Niagara's garrisons from the first explorers through the Civil War. Visitors can wander the fort's grounds and meet and interact with French, British and American soldiers, witness musket and artillery firings, play a period game and take part in an 18th century military drill. The summer's program also features women's roles at the fort during its history, where visitors can meet laundresses, cooks, gardeners and seamstresses.


Every fourth day is "muster day" when visitors experience what life at the fort was like during a single time period: the French and Indian War, American Revolution, or War of 1812. This rotation allows visitors to come repeatedly and experience something different. The summer's muster days will be as follows: War of 1812 (July 17, 29 and August 11); French and Indian War (July 21, August 3 and 17); and Revolutionary War (July 25 and August 7).

In addition, the fort's daily programming includes hourly guided tours, a museum that features the original flag that flew over the fort in 1812, an orientation video and interactive exhibits. Musket demonstrations are given year round.

The lighthouse is also open daily from noon to 3 p.m. through October 12.

Onsite Trades Demonstrations - Enhancing the visitor's experience at Old Fort Niagara is a growing representation of the trades that were needed to support the fort's 18th and early 19th century garrisons. Guests can watch and ask questions of the skilled tradesmen who are carpenters, coopers and blacksmiths as they work in their various shops.


Carpentry and Joinery: These workers were necessary for constructing and maintaining the 18th century buildings. A carpenter does the major framework of a building, although occasionally joiners may have also been present at Fort Niagara. These woodworkers are what we would call finish carpenters today, and were responsible for doors, windows, and trim in higher-end residences. Fort interpreters who portray woodworkers have built some of the furniture items on display at the fort.

Coopering: With supplies constantly passing through Niagara, coopers, or barrel-makers, were also a very important part of Niagara's garrison, and records show that they were present during both the French and British occupations. Much of their work involved repairing barrels, but also making new ones for things produced here. This is a brand new program for 2015.

Blacksmithing: Blacksmiths were also necessary for the support of the garrison. Like carpenters, they were responsible for repairs around the garrison, and using hammer, anvil and brute force, they created the hardware needed by the carpenters when assembling buildings. One of the Niagara blacksmiths was listed as an armorer as well, suggesting he was capable of doing work on firearms as well.

Native Programs - Old Fort Niagara's history has always involved relationships with Native Americans. The fort employs an onsite Native educator, a citizen of the Tuscarora Nation, whose role is to share the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history at the fort. Programs include learning about trading, clothing, food and its preparation, games, crafts, weapons and tools. Native staff will soon be carving out a canoe from a cottonwood tree, which visitors can watch evolve over the summer from the back of the Visitor Center. 

Food and Souvenirs - From Memorial Day through Labor Day, an indoor concession area serves hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, wraps, bagged snacks, bottled water, soft drinks, hot chocolate, coffee, shakes, floats and ice cream in the Trading Post within the fort. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Museum Shop located inside the Visitor Center sells gifts, books, apparel and souvenirs throughout the year. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.


Calendar of 2015 Events:

August 1-2, Soldiers of the Revolution

September 5-6, War of 1812 Encampment

October 17 and 24, Haunted Fortress

November 6, French Heritage Day

December 5 and 12, Castle by Candlelight


Admission to the Fort is $12 per adult, $8 per child (ages 6-12) and free for children 5 and under. Members of Old Fort Niagara are admitted free. Group discounts are available. Please refer to our website for details.


Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown, N.Y., which is 14 miles north of Niagara Falls via the Robert Moses Parkway North. The fort is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in July and August. Admissions end at 6:30 p.m. Old Fort Niagara is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association (a not-for-profit organization) in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Like us on Facebook.