The Indian village of Peckuwe is gone and so is the town of New Boston that replaced it. But the fair is there. The Fair at New Boston is another wonderful event that I'd heard of but never attended. Finally, in the fair's twenty-eighth season, I made it. Wow! All that glowing praise is certainly justified. I wanted to see the morning flag raising so reached the gates soon after they opened. A piper entertained the early arrivals from just inside those gates. At the entrance to the village, two soldiers saw me raise my camera and paused to help with the shot. They then answered my newbie questions and just generally gave me some insight into the fair's workings. I'm sorry that I did not get the names of these most helpful fellows but their behavior, I soon learned, was typical of the fair's participants. All of those "period people" knew their history and their portrayed role in it and were ready for a friendly and knowledgeable chat. The "period" of the fair is the tail end of the eighteenth century which is actually just a bit ahead of the short life (1809-1886) of the town of New Boston.
The first row is filled out with a view of the awakening village, the coffee house, and the militiamen's muster. Scenes from the opening ceremonies fill the second row. The town crier leads a parade through the streets then a fifteen star flag is hoisted at the village entrance. Incidentally, those fifteen stars date the fair to between June of 1792 (Kentucky) and June of 1796 (Tennessee). Doctor Balthasar, at the request of Fairmasters Cottrel & Smith, who stand behind him, gave the opening remarks. The remarks drew several huzzas and just a wee bit of heckling. Central Ohio has benefited greatly from the good doctor's presence. His descendents are key figures in another Ohio village nearly a century hence. The family resemblance is unmistakable.
The next two rows are a truly small sampling of the sights the fair offers. There are musicians everywhere including these who accompany the spirited dancers in the first photo, male & female violinists, a couple playing glasses, and many more. The Clockwork Clown had an enthusiastic crowd at every show and the Cheapside Theater was packed for its performance of The Guardian. As the sign explains, there are "several native tribes represented" in the Indian village. There are other glimpses here and here. Figures from history included George Rogers Clark, the man who was pretty much responsible for village of Peckuwe no longer being around, and Phillis Wheatley, the slave girl whose poetry caught even George Washington's attention. While I waited to say hi to General Clark, a.k.a., Mel Hankla, I overheard his conversation with a gent who recalled attending a recreation of the Battle of Peckuwe on this same site as a child in the 1920s. I eventually joined in the conversation as did the scalplocked native American in the background. His name was Alex. Then there is the hard working Doctor Balthasar and Frenchman M. LeFarceur de Villeverte, Marchand de Dentelle. Forced from his homeland by its revolution, M. de Villeverte tries to bring some culture to the frontier but it's not an easy task. A notice posted near his "suitably appointed surroundings" explains his intentions and offers to "purchase Children of reasonable Intelligence, Industry, and Manners" so that he might teach them the art of lace making. He will also accept children "less inclined to Industry" but only for a fee.
I did not go hungry or thirsty. I know I should have more photos of the numerous food vendors and the three taverns. Maybe I'll concentrate on that next year; And more of the craftsmen, too. My breakfast, eaten around 11:30, consisted of Fire Roasted Ham on a Roll augmented with a slice of cheese from the stand next door and washed down with a mug of beer from Littlejohn's Tavern. In order to avoid the appearance of favoritism, I also had my mug filled at the Black Horse and the Hickory. I waited until just before leaving to have my desert. Mmmm, gingerbread.
On each of its two days, the fair includes a battle reenactment. That gives each side a chance to win one. On Saturday, the battle of the Wabash was reenacted. This is also known as "St. Clair's Defeat" and was the worst defeat ever of the United States at the hands of native Americans. For those who think Custer screwed up badly, consider that he was one of just 268 soldiers killed at Little Big Horn. St. Clair survived the Battle of the Wabash but 632 soldiers and 200 camp followers did not. This represented nearly one quarter of the entire United States Army. Today, the Battle of Fallen Timbers would be reenacted. This was the "Mad" Anthony Wayne victory that led almost directly to the 1795 Treaty of Greenville. Cannons boomed and U.S. forces charged from the top of the hill. I was at the bottom near the day's "losers". It got rather smoky for awhile. Judging from that last picture, the fair, or at least the battles, will likely continue for many years to come.
ADDENDUM: Sep 6, 2010 - In the general "Googleness" involved it putting this page together, I discovered a Roger McQuinn recording of a song I didn't even know existed. Listen to McQuinn's MP3 of St. Clair's Defeat here.
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