Labor Day weekend will bring 1812 history to life for visitors at Old Fort Niagara during its annual War of 1812 Encampment.
Unique to this event is the Saturday evening battle that recreates the British capture of Fort Niagara in December 1813. During the demonstration, visitors will experience the British assault on the fort in real time and on the original grounds where the event occurred more than 200 years ago. About 150 re-enactors from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Ontario are expected to participate.
"The Niagara Region was at the center of the British and American conflict in the War of 1812," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the fort. "Many of our most dramatic stories are from this war, including that of Betsy Doyle and how she carried hot cannon balls to the cannons on the roof of the French Castle. Visitors will learn how the fort was lost to the British during a brief but intense battle and better understand the importance of the fort's location at that time in history."
The U.S. held old Fort Niagara during 1812 and 1813, but on the morning of Dec. 19, 1813, British forces captured the fort in the pre-dawn hours. The fort's surrender opened the door for the British devastation of the eastern shore of the Niagara River from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.
Saturday evening's festivities will begin at 7:15 p.m. with a concert by the MacKenzie Highlanders' Pipes and Drums. The concert will be immediately followed by the battle re-enactment inside the fort on its parade ground. Admissions into the fort for this battle will cease at 7 p.m. when the doors will be closed to incoming and outgoing visitors until about 9 p.m. to ensure visitor safety.
The weekend's events also feature daily battle re-enactments at 2 p.m., kids games and recruiting programs, a display of surgical instruments, military music, artillery firings and soldier's life activities. The full schedule is as follows:
War of 1812 Encampment Schedule for Sept. 5 and 6
(The following occur on Saturday only)
Admission to the fort is $12 per adult, $8 per child (ages 6-12) and free for children ages 5 and under. Members of Old Fort Niagara are admitted free. Group discounts are available.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown. The fort is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in August (admissions end at 6:30 p.m.) and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting in September (admissions end at 4:30 p.m.). Old Fort Niagara is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association (a not-for-profit organization) in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.