Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Written by Christy Trent:


Most men hate festivals. It’s a fact. You see them at the events doing a zombie walk from booth to booth, dragging their women’s purchases, the look on their face priceless. But there are several festivals in Ohio that men have been known to enjoy. One is the Renaissance Festival in Waynesville where you can experience 16th century England, complete with jousting matches and a Royal court. Another festival, a huge historical occasion called, “Fair at New Boston,” is located in Springfield. This fair is a historical re-enactment of the time period between 1790 and 1810. Participants wear authentic period costumes while soldiers and Indians recreate battle scenes. You can munch down on a gigantic turkey leg and try a pint of ale at one of the taverns.
The booth that fascinated me most was the medical tent. There were numerous devices for medical work from that time period. After observing slimy leeches in a jar, used to blood let for various illnesses, I for one am very thankful I live in this day and time.
The festival spurred my curiosity for history of that era. “Life in the American Colonies”, is a book written by Ruth Dean and Melissa Thomson, describing the way people lived then.
Although we traveled to Springfield in an air conditioned car, travel in the 1700’s was anything but comfortable. There were few proper roads so most travel was done by horseback, and bridges were few and far between. Large rivers and even small creeks were usually impassable and the only way to the other side was by canoe. To find my way to Springfield I quickly got on mapquest and printed out an easily readable map, but back then directions were haphazard and maps were few or unreliable. Today while traveling we look for gas stations when our tanks get low, early settlers had to look for water and feed for their horses.
At the festival clothing was a big attraction for me. Men, women, children and Indians were all dressed in period costumes. Marveling at the layers of clothing on such a hot afternoon, I was thankful I wore a pair of comfortable shorts, cool top and flip flops. Women in that day dressed in a shift, corset, petticoat, linen cap, straw hat, jacket and white stockings. Men put on trousers, shirt, jacket, thick stockings and a coat. Wealthier men wore heavy powdered wigs that often fell off revealing their shaved heads beneath.
Food was another attraction at the fair. I tried a bowl of fresh raspberries and cream but there were many different dishes. Early colonists had to grow most of their food and live stock or hunt it down. Thank God for the grocery store! A staple in their diets was corn- dried corn, fired corn, hominy and cornbread to name a few.
To find out more about life in the 1700’s travel to your local library and pick from this book or many others.

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