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Commemorate start of American Revolution at 'Patriots' Day Weekend'

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Tue, Apr 16th 2019 10:00 am
Visitors can `enlist` in the army and battle it out with wooden muskets at 'Patriots' Day Weekend,' April 27 and 28, at Old Fort Niagara. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Visitors can "enlist" in the army and battle it out with wooden muskets at 'Patriots' Day Weekend,' April 27 and 28, at Old Fort Niagara. (Photo by Wayne Peters)

Veterans and active US military members admitted free

At Old Fort Niagara’s “Patriots’ Day Weekend” event on April 27-28, visitors will experience living-history fun while learning about the American Revolution and how it started on the battlefields of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts.

Staff, volunteers and visiting reenacting units will present musket-firing demonstrations, uniform programs and 18th century military drills, and recruit visitors to “enlist” in the British or American armies. Activities will happen indoors and out, and tours of the fort will be offered each hour.

“Everyone is eager to be outside as spring warms up, including reenactors who are ready to meet visitors and share their American Revolution knowledge,” said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. “ ‘Patriots’ Day Weekend’ is a fun experience for visitors of all ages and gets the reenactment season underway.”

  • “Patriots’ Day Weekend” also honors all veterans and U.S. military service members, who will be admitted free with proper ID. A ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday will award special plaques to:
  • Corp. Eugene Francis Flynn, U.S. Marine Corps, decorated veteran of the Korean War, who was wounded twice in service, earning two purple hearts.
  • Corp. Stanley Michael Jamalkowski (posthumously), U.S. Marine Corps, veteran of World War II, who fought in the Battle of Okinawa.

Volunteer reenactors from Hoisington's New York Rangers sponsor this annual event with the help of Brant's Volunteers, 64th Regiment of Foot, and Fort McIntosh Garrison reenactment units. In addition, Old Fort Niagara’s interpreters and volunteers will participate. Reenactors will portray colonial rebels, colonial Loyalist and British Redcoats and present the following schedule both days:

  • 10 a.m. Assemble – Reenactors will gather on the parade grounds
  • 10:30 a.m. Musket demonstration – Visitors will learn about the weapon that soldiers used during the war
  • 11 a.m. Recruiting demonstration – Visitors can "enlist" as Rebels or Loyalists and act in a mock battle
  • Noon – Storytelling about the Battles of Lexington and Concord that started the American Revolution
  • 12:30 p.m. – Musket demonstration
  • 1 p.m. – Uniforms and clothing of the American Revolution
  • 1:30 p.m. – Musket demonstration
  • 2 p.m. (Saturday) – Veterans’ honor ceremony and musket firing
  • 2 p.m. (Sunday) – Patriots’ Day honors and musket firing
  • 2:30 p.m. – Tactical demonstration by Reenactors
  • 4:15 p.m. – Musket demonstration

Daily admission to ‘Patriots’ Day Weekend’ is $13 for adults, $9 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under, and free for Old Fort Niagara Association members. Veterans and active military service people will be admitted free with proper ID.

About Patriots’ Day

Patriots’ Day is a civic holiday that is observed in some New England states on the third Monday of April. It was established in the late 1890s to commemorate the April 19, 1775, battles of Lexington and Concord that officially began the American Revolution.

Here, on the Niagara Frontier, those first musket shots of war were not heard, but the results of that conflict came to define the Niagara River border shared with Canada. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the American Revolution, established borders, including the one locally, between the newly established United States of America and the British colony now known as Canada.

Upcoming Events

Old Fort Niagara's reenactment season continues with regular events through the summer.

  • May 4-5: Civil War Artillery School – Civil War reenactors practice their weaponry skills at the fort.
  • May 25-26: Soldiers through the Ages – Meet soldiers from the 17th through 20th centuries in this “timeline” event. Special programs and displays interpret military life from early explorers through the Vietnam War.
  • July 5-7: French and Indian War Encampment – Relive the Siege of 1759 when British and New York soldiers besieged French-held Fort Niagara. Battle reenactments, large living history camps. The site’s largest event of the year.
  • Aug. 10-11: Soldiers of the Revolution – This living history event recreates the War for Independence on the New York frontier. Battle reenactments, hands-on activities for families, plus music and games.
  • Aug. 31 and Sept. 1: War of 1812 Encampment – Living history during the day and an evening battle reenactment show how the British surprised the American garrison during the War of 1812.

Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) 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. The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m.

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