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French Castle open house, living history happening at French Heritage Day

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Fri, Oct 26th 2018 07:00 am
Try your hands at open-hearth cooking during French Heritage Day. Old Fort Niagara is offering an open-hearth cooking workshop using 18th-century recipes, tools and techniques. The class is open to anyone, regardless of cooking or fire-making skills, and includes enjoying the meal once it's finished. Niagara County Historian Kate Emerson will be the instructor. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Try your hands at open-hearth cooking during French Heritage Day. Old Fort Niagara is offering an open-hearth cooking workshop using 18th-century recipes, tools and techniques. The class is open to anyone, regardless of cooking or fire-making skills, and includes enjoying the meal once it's finished. Niagara County Historian Kate Emerson will be the instructor. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Also, free admission for active and retired military personnel on Veterans Day
On Saturday, Nov. 3, Old Fort Niagara will open the heavy, wooden doors to the French Castle and present living-history programs about the influence and impact of the French on Niagara's early history, from 1726-59.
The day's programs are part of French Heritage Day, when visitors can enjoy a series of interactive and educational activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"French Heritage Day is taking you back nearly 300 years and welcoming you with open doors to the fort's French Castle," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. "The sights, sounds and smells will be very much as they were in the 18th century. Visitors can meet fur traders, watch a meal being prepared over an open fire in the boulangerie, meet soldiers, play games and more. They're all good reasons to wander out of your house and into our castle on Nov. 3."
At the heart of French Heritage Day is the 1726 French Castle, built by the French, which is the oldest original building on the Great Lakes. It was surrounded by a wooden stockade and housed about 40 soldiers. The new fort protected French interests in the region and provided a venue where Frenchmen and Native Americans could meet to negotiate and trade.
Old Fort Niagara field musicians will perform at French Heritage Day on Nov. 3. Here, Suzannah Emerson plays the fife and John Chapman plays the drum. (Photo by Charlotte Clark)
On French Day, staff and volunteers will portray those French soldiers, Native traders, voyageurs and civilians. The public will learn about:
  • Food and cooking techniques from the 1700s
  • Hands-on introduction to the 18th century fur trade
  • French military music
  • 18th century French medicine
  • French soldier life
  • Musket firing demonstrations
  • Cannon firing demonstrations
  • 18th century French games
  • 18th century surveying
Everything is included with regular admission to the fort, which is $12 for adults, $8 for children, and free for children ages 5 and under as well as Old Fort Niagara Association members.
The boulangerie workshop has already sold out.
Active Military, Veterans & Families Admitted Free on Veterans Day
On Sunday, Nov. 11, Old Fort Niagara will welcome active military personnel, veterans and their families with free admission in appreciation for their service to this country. These visitors need only to present their military ID at the admissions desk. The fort will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (admissions end at 4:30 p.m.).
'Castle by Candlelight'
The fort's final event of the year will be "Castle by Candlelight" on the evenings of Dec. 8 and 15. Tickets will be $15 per person and sold at the door.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admissions end 30 minutes before closing. 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.
This is the fort's trade room, which saw decades of trade between the French and Native communities on the early Niagara frontier. Here, interpreter Art Hannah explains the types of furs that were traded, which visitors are encouraged to touch. (Photo by Wayne Peters)

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