Tonawanda News — YOUNGSTOWN — Hundreds of re-enactors from both sides of the border will head to Old Fort Niagara next weekend to participate in the three-day French and Indian War Encampment.
By far the biggest annual event at the historic site, the pageantry traditionally attracts several thousand visitors to the state park and the village, generating a hefty revenue boost to the local economy.
Among those eagerly awaiting the summer influx are Aaron and Jane Dey and Elizabeth Beaty, proprietors of the new Dory Trading Post, 435 Main St., in the village. After a soft opening at the recent street dance — making the start of the season — they’ve been scurrying to stock up on Fort Niagara and Youngstown-oriented items as well as Tuscarora art works, jewelry, crafts and carvings. “Miss Jane,” as Dey is known, said earlier that the re-opened Dory should be fully operating by mid-July
Inside the fort, 18th century sutlers and artisans will be establish a tent city affording visitors an opportunity to buy period wares and watch demonstrations of various skills (e.g., blacksmithing, woodworking and soap making.)
A fort spokesman said the French & Indian battles were fought between 1754 and 1760, two decades before the American Revolution. Under terms of the war-ending treaty, Britain took control of Canada and the Great Lakes Region. As a result of the war, new taxes were imposed on the King’s American subjects that stirred political unrest in the 13 colonies.
The script for the drama calls for the French troops and their Native allies to occupy the fort and its labyrinth of earthen fortifications while the British soldiers and their allies camp outside the complex. Starting Friday, the British will attack the fort each day at 3 p.m. until the stronghold is surrendered on Sunday afternoon.
Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara, said the French & Indian War Encampment is the world’s largest annual commemoration of the critical event in the history of North America. Admission to the encampment is $13 per person, with children 5 and under free. Additional information on the schedule is available on the fort’s website: www.oldfortniagara.com.
Noting the anticipated sharp increase in attendance for the weekend, Emerson has been seeking volunteers to assist with a number of chores.
“It requires many hands to help make it possible,” he said, listing among the needs as assistance with parking, admissions, registration, food service and crowd control. Additional information is available by calling 745-7611, ext. 229.
The village, town and nearby parks have been the scene of many activities this weekend including the two-day Niagara Pioneer International Soccer Tournament in Fort Niagara State Park, the annual Porter-on-the-Lake Festival off Dietz Road, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Concert set Saturday night on the fort grounds.