The Northwest Colonial Festival was once again a fun and insightful look back into not just the events that sparked the Revolutionary War, but also to the people and culture around those events.
Hosted at the Washington Lavender Farm in the shadow of the George Washington Inn — a building made to replicate George Washington’s Mount Vernon home — the history-inspired event drew around 2,000 people to see just what life was life back in 1775.
Much of the Colonial Festival is based around the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Each day featured a reenactment of part of that conflict that sparked off the Revolutionary War — the Battle of Lexington that saw the first shots fired in what would become a years-long conflict, and the Battle of Concord Bridge that saw the Colonial militia resisting the British rule win their first strategic victory of the war.
The reenactments are narrated by Jeff Dacus, who said that he’s spent much of his life studying this era, and who uses that knowledge to help explain what brought the events being portrayed together.
“Giving the audience that key context helps to improve their understanding of what they’re watching,” Dacus said.
The battle reenactments are at the core of the festival but there was much more to be found as well, including talks with historic figures from the era: Vern Frykholm as George Washington, Jane Ritchey as Martha Washington, Tom Saffold as Thomas Jefferson and others.
The festival had several new actors this year as well, including Saffold and Laury Long, a teenager who according to Frykholm said she was enthralled with the character portrayals last year and asked Ritchey, “How do I do this?”
“As soon as she said that, Jane took her under her wing the rest of the weekend, and now she’s here alongside us,” Frykholm said.
Other historical experts were on hand as well, including representatives from the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution societies with various artifacts, replicas and general information from the Revolutionary War era.
The Colonial Village was also a major attraction, with people coming from along the West Coast to show their expertise in various aspects of Revolutionary War-era life. David Rieve is a gunsmith who builds muskets appropriate for the era and gave talks about his craft in between helping the reenactors work on their rifles. Stephen Pierce showed visitors surveying and cartography equipment from the era and described how maps and charts were made and used at the time. Andy House-Higgins lead the army of the Columbia Fife and Drum Corps in military musical displays, and visitors could get a sense of what a colonial home and tavern were like as well.
In all, the Colonial Festival made for an entertaining, educational weekend, albeit a slightly damp one at times thanks to the weather. Event organizer Dan Abbot said spirits stayed high and that he was proud of how everything came together.