Fort Frederick 18th Century Market Fair

June 7, 2022 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

The Fort Frederick Market Fair was held on April 21 to the 24 for the first time since 2019. The lapse, of course, was due to Covid restrictions. This is an event that nearly anyone who has ever attended will be addicted to. Linda and I attended as well as our friends, Ron and Debbie.

Fort Frederick was built during the French and Indian War by the colony of Maryland to protect the frontier from attack. Being a large masonry construction rather than the more common wooden palisade, the fort was never threatened. It was too far for the French to bring cannon, and their native allies had no hope of storming the massive 18-foot stone walls. The fort was also used during Pontiac’s Rebellion and again during the American Revolution as a prison camp for British POWs. The state sold off the land in the 19th century, and the area around it was farmed. During the Civil War, Union troops garrisoned the fort and aimed a cannon over the Potomac toward Confederate lines. The Confederates made some attempts to dislodge the Yankees but were unsuccessful. The fort and the land around it were sold again for farming, but the state bought it back in 1922 and archaeological studies were begun as well as work to restore the fort. The CCC did much of the restoration work in the 1930s.

The market fair celebrates the history of the fort and the frontier with numerous activities as well as a large number of period sutlers purveying goods to the hundreds of reenactors who come to shop and visit friends. Period camping is allowed, and many of the campers put out used goods on blankets in front of their tents to sell. The cagey shopper can pick up some real bargains that way.

While there were quite a few sutlers at this year’s fair, there didn’t seem to be as many as in previous years. Some that were listed on the sutler’s map simply weren’t there. This may have been due to the rainy weather earlier in the week or the ridiculously high gas prices we are currently experiencing. Nonetheless, we managed to spend more money that we should have!

Most of the reenactors dress in 18th century garb, but the event is open to the general public and many shoppers are in street clothes.

This is a great event and we are overjoyed to see it come back.

Filed Under: 18th Century

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