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Fort Yargo returns to Colonial times this weekend

POSTED: March 31, 2011 12:20 a.m.

In the late 1700s, in the cross path where the territories of the Creek and Cherokee Indians met, the state of Georgia built a series of four forts to defend the settlers from an Indian uprising.

"Even though there were a couple of small skirmishes and things like that, it never really turned into anything major," said Eric Bentley, an employee of Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, where one of the forts is located.

This weekend, you can experience what life was like for those settlers at the Fort Yargo Colonial Market Faire.

Members of the Fort Yargo Living History Society will make sure the event is true to the 18th century, with demonstrations of woodworking, doll-making, candle-making, cooking and gardening.

The society's president, Omer Alexander, 55, of Bethlehem, will serve as the "bushway," or lead organizer, of the event, which is the club's largest fundraiser.

Alexander said living historians will travel from Maine, Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky to participate, camping on the park's grounds in 18th century reproduction tents throughout the weekend.

He said each day will begin with a flag-raising ceremony.

"We will muster the militia, we will say our first prayer of the day and raise the flag," he said.

"We'll have a quick discussion of the day's events and the rules, and after we raise the flag, the event will be open for the day."

Events will include tomahawk competitions, a liar's contest, a militia marching demonstration and a discussion on 18th century guns.

Historians will demonstrate tailoring, how to hand-hew a log and work hickory to make ax handles and ramrods for muskets.

Children also can play colonial games, which will be demonstrated throughout the day.

Alexander said events like the Market Faire pique kids' interest in history.

"History taught now days in schools is very dry and uninteresting," he said. "This is not something where they watch us do it. This is something where we show them how it's done and then let them try it."

Alexander said the hands-on element makes history easier to understand.

"It's very, very hands-on, and it very often sparks a great deal of interest in the kids and the kids start wanting to know more about history," he said. "It makes a huge difference if the kids can actually get their hands on these things and see it done. They understand it better."

The third weekend of each month, the club holds a smaller demonstration event at the park that is also open to visitors.

Wendy Smith, special events coordinator for the park, said last year was the first Market Faire, which drew between 200 and 300 people.

She said park visitors also can tour the fort during the event, and the wares created by historians will be for sale.

And don't count on any cancellations due to inclement weather.

"I've seen them do it in the pouring rain," Smith said.



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