By Andrew Edwards
Thousands of elementary students, parents and general public came to Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson park on Wednesday for a day that was full of education experiences.
The occasion? Alabama Frontier Days.
This was the 24thannual frontier days event, which shows how the south transitioned from Creek Indian lands to military forts and homesteads from 1700 to 1820.
There were tents set up in various locations, stretching from Toulouse to fort Jackson – each of which had reenactors who were portraying a multitude of everyday late 18thcentury activities.
There were those dressed as British and American soldiers, who would march from one fort to another. Some tents had musicians who would play different instruments of that time period. Other tents would have blacksmith’s showing off their craftsmanship or traders who would showcase their furs and guns – such as muskets and pistols.
Not only could people learn from the reenactors, they could interact with them as well. One of the more popular events, the Creek Stomp Dance, gave children the opportunity to lock arms and dance around to the tune of Creek Indian songs.
Another popular show involved Rodney the Younger, a magician. Younger would perform various tricks that involved items that would have been used back in late 1700s, and while vintage, the magic was still entertaining to all those who watched.
Perhaps the most startling, yet intriguing aspect of the day was the cannon firing that would be performed intermittingly. This would always get a roar from the crowd, creating the feeling that you yourself were about to take up arms at the battle of Concord and Lexington.
Ove Jensen, event director, gave a little bit more insight into the purpose behind Frontier Days.
“In the four days that we host this, we’ll have about 12,000 people come through here. That’s a lot of people to get ready for,” Jensen said. “We specifically focus on this time period because that’s the curriculum that fourth graders learn in their history classes. We want to bring that history to life, and give everyone a glimpse into the past by showing the everyday, mundane activities that people were involved in,” Jensen said.
For an event that hosts over 12,000 people, the preparation begins early.
“We sign the initial paperwork to get this started back in May. Typically, the schools begin to sign on at the beginning of August, and we start preparing everything here in early September. We start to put more and more work into is as the weeks go on,” Jensen said.
The amount of volunteer work is also substantial.
“We have over 100 volunteers that come out here to help us. The presentations that we have are made possible by them, the Alabama Historical Commission, Friends of Forts and our dedicated professionals. Without them, none of this would be possible,” Jensen explained.
Alabama Frontier Days is an event that has gained respect throughout it’s 24 years, garnering attention from people all across the world. The event runs from Nov. 6thto 9thfrom 9AM to 4PM, so there’s still time to gather up the family and partake in one of most authentic portrayals of American history around!
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