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April 2023 Events at Old Fort Niagara

by remerson
Thu, Mar 16th 2023 03:00 pm

April Events at Old Fort Niagara

April is a busy month at Old Fort Niagara as the historic site gears up for the spring and summer season. The fort celebrates April Fools’ Day on Saturday, April 1 with a special program called Fortress Foolery. Visitors to the fort solve riddles and discover weird items that are out of place in an 18th century fort. Those who solve the riddles correctly receive a special souvenir of their visit to the fort.

Historians don't agree on the origins of April Fool’s Day. One theory has it that April Fool’s Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar the new year began in March. 

People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

Fortress Foolery won’t include paper fish or “kick me” signs but it will challenge visitors to scour the fort for humorous anachronisms that are just out of place.

On April 9, Easter Sunday, the First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown will host a sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. at the fort. This tradition goes back many years and is free and open to the public.

Most people think of April 15 as tax day, but it has another designation. April 15 is also National Laundry Day. It is an occasion for people to assess their laundry habits and teach children how to do laundry. The word ‘laundry’ comes from the Middle English ‘lavendry,’ which in turn came from the Old French word ‘lavanderie’ or ‘lavandier’ for ‘person who washes linen.

Visitors to Old Fort Niagara will experience how laundresses did laundry for military garrisons in the 18th century. Laundresses were generally enlisted soldiers’ wives who were paid by the piece to wash the soldiers’ linen. Military commanders of the day knew how important cleanliness was to the soldier’s health. Even frontier outposts like Fort Niagara had provisions for keeping clothing and uniforms clean.

Persons who are interested in becoming reenactors and reenactors interested in improving their historical impression are invited to a history master class on Saturday, April 22. The sessions include developing an accurate Native American impression, 18th century foodways, women’s attire and outfitting soldiers during the French and Indian War and American Revolution. Registration is $10.00 per person (Old Fort Niagara members are free). Lunch is available for an additional $15.00 per person.

April wraps up with Rush Bagot Day, observing the anniversary of the 1817 Rush Bagot Treaty that demilitarized the United States-Canadian border. Members of the Old Fort Niagara Association and the Friends of Fort George will receive free admission to each other’s forts on Saturday, April 29.

More information of each of these events can be found on Old Fort Niagara’s website at www.oldfortniagara.org.

Hours of Operation

January 13 through March, Open Wednesday-Sunday  10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m

April 1- June 30, Open Daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

July and August, Open Daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

September 1 - October 15, Open Daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

October 16 - December 31, Open Wednesday through Sunday (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays) 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

The fort will be open daily during Christmas week, December 26 - 31. 

Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. 


General Admission



Children (6 to 12 years) 


Children (5 and under):






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Old Fort Niagara is operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1927. We do not rely on tax dollars. Instead, the Fort is funded through a combination of admission fees, museum shop sales, and charitable contributions.

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