Man from the country

| March 07, 2006

Fort Ticonderoga, once the site of two major battles, is now a hub for history lovers. Situated on 1,000 acres in Ticonderoga, NY., on Lake Champlain, visitors to the fort can see all the way across the lake to Vermont, where the fort owns another 1,000 acres of land.

Built by the French army in 1755, Fort Ticonderoga was first the site for a battle during the French and Indian War. During the last weekend in June, about 1,000 re-enactors from all over the world come together to portray Native Americans, American and Canadian provincial troops, and British and French soldiers. Close to the Canadian border, Fort Ticonderoga draws many natives of Quebec, the French-speaking province of Canada. Many re-enactors from Quebec add authenticity when dressed in traditional French uniform, speaking French-Canadian around the campfire.

Grand Encampment takes place throughout the day, and visitors receive a detailed schedule to see how soldiers and their families lived during the period. Free tours are available in the camps, and visitors are encouraged to speak to the re-enactors, who stay in character to entertain and teach a little history.

The battle re-enactment occurs each day at exactly 2 p.m., and visitors can stand gape-mouthed on the hill near the battle scene while soldiers fire muskets and cannons, and younger soldiers lead the army into battle, bravely playing fifes and drums. Officers shout orders and strategies, demonstrating battle style during the 18th century.

Along Sutler’s Row, visitors can shop for period furniture, clothing and other wares. Merchants also demonstrate period trades and occupations, and a church service for the soldiers is held on Sunday morning. Re-enactors also provide games and activities for children.

At the end of September, about 700 re-enactors portray a large battle fought at Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolutionary War. Soldiers include British Loyalists, American Continentals, German auxiliaries and American Indians, and the battle begins at 2 p.m.. The Revolutionary War encampment also includes Sutler’s Row and all other re-enactments and activities. The admissions desk provides all visitors with a detailed schedule.

In addition to the re-enactment weekends, Fort Ticonderoga provides tours of the forts. Admission is $12 for adults, $10.80 for seniors and $6 for children ages seven to 12 years old. Visitors can camp, hike and boat on the beautiful land, and the Fort also boasts an acre of immaculately groomed gardens open June 1 through Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Boston Tea Party is one of America’s most famous acts of civil disobedience. On Dec. 16, 1773, more than 5,000 American patriots, calling themselves “Sons of Liberty,” dressed like Mohawk Indians and dumped 45 tons of British Tea into Boston Harbor in protest of the monopoly that the British East India Company held on tea trade. King George III and Parliament enacted the Coercive Acts, closing Boston Harbor and attempting to drastically reduce self-government in Massachusetts. This act of rebellion, in turn, revived the issue of taxation without representation, an issue that would eventually lead to the Revolutionary War.

The Boston Tea Party Re-enactment, held in the city’s Old South Meeting House, lets visitors take part in history, as the Old South’s Tea Party Players recreate the famous speech of Samuel Adams that prompted the tea ambush. The audience cheers as the players rush to the harbor and dump the chests of tea into the sea.

Admission is $5 and free to people wearing traditional colonial attire. Only the first 600 people will be admitted inside, so come early for a good seat. Advance tickets are also available.

The Wild West Roundup in Dundas, Minn., gives tourists a peek into the days of gunfights, can-can girls and saloon brawls. June 10 and 11, about 150 performers descend on the small town to recreate life in the frontier. Tombstone, the town undertaker, provides tours of his old-fashioned funeral parlor, and re-enactors perform the gunfight at the OK Corral when the Youngers and the Earps shot it out.

The players also perform stagecoach robberies, can-can shows, and arts and crafts.

Characters like Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and Crazy Cora entertain the crowd, and ponies provide afternoon rides for children. The Roundup is a two-day nonstop performance with a re-enactment every half hour.

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