116 Hours

It is February, and my museum is closed for the winter. We’ve been closed since early November, and we won’t open back up properly till May, but lest folks forget us, we like to open up for a day or two during the cold, dark part of the year on some pretext or other. Because of this, we’ve scheduled a Winter Family Fun Day this Saturday, replete with historical snowshoeing, tobogganing, and ice skating. My co-workers of the smithing persuasion have even made a pair or two of reproduction ice skates. We’d never done an event like this before, and we were pretty excited. The advertising was done. It was on people’s schedules.

And then our beautiful, seasonal snow and ice disappeared in an unseasonable warm patch last week.  Winter Family Fun Day was no more.

What with all that advertising though, we were not at all keen to cancel the day. And so this Monday, when the forecast indicated that the weather really would not be cooperating, we sat down and drew up a new plan. To that end, this Saturday you can visit our fort in the late winter of 1777. You will find an American garrison preparing for its coming campaign, and you will find a museum staff of half a dozen, plus a handful of hearty volunteers, preparing for their season to come.

Group selfie from closing day, back in November. This is what a great team looks like.

That’s right folks, we are going to throw a living history event, and we’re going to do it in four days flat. Of course we picked winter, 1777, because we’re heading into an interpretive season in which we are depicting 1777 anyway, so this will be a dry run of that story. In a lot of ways, the work the staff has been doing since November (carpentry, gunsmithing, tailoring, researching military tactics, trying not to get stuck in the snow) resembles the work which occupied the fort’s garrison that winter, and so opening the fort to the public should be as easy as changing from jeans to petticoat or breeches and hiding the electric lights.

The whole team (all six of us) are voracious researchers, and so despite the fact that we weren’t planning on covering this material with the public till May, we’re pretty much set to talk at length to everyone who shows up. Our interpretive spaces need the floors swept (and in a few instances, modern tool or storage containers moved), but that’s about it.

I’m definitely bragging here, but we’re a kick-ass team of talented historians and material culture nerds. If there was ever a group to take a living history event from zero to sixty in 116 hours, it’s us.

Come visit Saturday from 10-4 and watch us pull this off with style.

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