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Alabama Frontier Days will be in full swing this week at Fort Toulouse/ Jackson Park in Wetumpka.
Demonstrations and displays by reenactors will offer an opportunity for visitors to take a step back in time and observe the lives of the settlers, soldiers and Native Americans who once populated the site.
The event has been a November staple for 17 years, especially for students. With reduced numbers of school field trips due to decreases in education funding, last year’s Frontier Days saw diminished attendance. About 8,000 school children visited, plus approximately 3,000 other guests.
But concerns that attendance could further decline this year have proven baseless. Ned Jenkins, park archaeologist, said more than 10,000 students are preregistered for the 18th Annual Frontier Days.
“That tells us we have a good product when they (schools) are choosing to make this one of their (limited) field trips,” he said.“We were thinking attendance might go down even more. It tells us teachers think this is a really good event.”
And, despite the historical nature of Frontier Days, there will be new features to complement the popular established ones such as stomp dancers, musket and cannon fire, blacksmithing and more.
“This year we have an 18th Century pipe and drum corps coming down from the Illinois/Indiana area,” Jenkins said. “They are the Royal 42nd Highlanders and play military music. It’s really neat.
“Something else new is a woman from Tennessee who is bringing her Carolina dogs,” he said. “They are indigenous Southeastern Indian dogs, and she will have a station where she will be telling about them.
“And every other year, we have deer butchering and skinning in the Indian camp. We will have that on Friday.”
While most of the attendees hail from Alabama, students from Surfside in Panama City, Fla. will again make the trip.
“They come every year,” said Jenkins.
Park personnel have been busy preparing for the onslaught of visitors, which will include 3,000 to 5,000 walk-ins during the weekday reenactments.
“For the last two weeks we’ve been splitting firewood, rolling musket cartridges and poisoning ant beds,” said Jenkins. “I think we’re pretty much ready.”
Attendees will see reenactors bring to life the days when Alabama was the western frontier of the United States (1717-1820). The reconstructed forts, Indian camps and blacksmith shop will set the stage for the portrayals.
Authentically costumed participants will demonstrate the arts, crafts and trades of the period and both period and modern food will be available.
The forts were built inside the present-day park area -- two by the French (Fort Toulouse, 1717-1763), and one by the English (Fort Jackson, 1814-1819).
Fort Toulouse was a permanent French outpost north of Mobile, and a strategic point in the South during the French and British struggle for North America lands.
Fort Jackson was constructed during the Creek War campaign of the War of 1812 on the old site of Fort Toulouse. Building began only three weeks after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, and it was at the new fort that the Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed on Aug. 9, 1814, to end the Creek War.
According to the treaty, the Creeks ceded 20 million acres to the United States government, opening most of what is now Alabama to settlers.
Various demonstrations and period entertainment during Frontier Days will include stomp dance, pottery making, dugout canoe construction, flint knapping, village life and foodways, hide tanning, storytelling and songs, Creek Indian hunting camp, spinning, weaving and dying, blacksmithing, firing flintlock muskets and cannons, War of 1812 military encampment, Fort Toulouse Colonial Marines, knife making, puppet and marionette shows, strolling balladeers, magician, jugglers, period music and more.
Frontier Days will be Nov. 2-6. Pre sentations will be ongoing from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Admission is $6 for students and $7 for adults. Children under six are admitted free.
For more information, call 334-567-3002 or email@example.com.
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