Colonial Day is one of our favorite days at Fort Frederica National Monument. This is our fifth season at Fort Frederica and we recently worked at our fourth Colonial Day. We didn’t have a Colonial Day in 2020 or 2021, so it was good to be able to return to it this year.
Colonial Day is the last Saturday of March and is a celebration of all the history at Fort Frederica. Between the volunteers and specialists the park pulls in, there are about 30 people working at colonial trades or depicting soldiers. We have been averaging 700 to 800 visitors on that day, with many of them local families. It is a fun day to play together after weeks of preparation and work.
Colonial Day 2022 felt like a return to normal and everyone was eager to participate. We had an outstanding group of soldiers come this year. There were Highlanders and British soldiers representing those who fought for Fort Frederica. We had Spanish soldiers from St. Augustine and the wonderful group of Free Black soldiers from Fort Mose. All of them gave musket and cannon firing demonstrations that went on from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. They always shoot out over the marsh, but this year there was a stiff breeze blowing in from the marsh. Consequently, every time they shot, they were immediately enveloped in the smoke from their guns.
We had all kinds of trades being demonstrated. Retired Ranger Denise came to talk about dying cloth. Her husband displayed 18th century medical instruments. After seeing many of them, I am thankful for modern medical practices! Volunteers Mady, Julia, and Jamieson helped children dip candles. Volunteer George talked about making tabby. We had a friar talking about life in the Spanish missions and an Creek Indian talking about dealing with the colonials.
Almost everyone wore colonial costumes, from the rangers to the volunteer greeters to the people in the bookstore. I think maintenance was the sole exception and they were working too hard to bother with colonial clothes. The maintenance rangers and volunteers worked really hard on Friday getting everything set up after the monsoon on Thursday. Then they made lunch and water deliveries during the day and stayed late to clean up afterward.
Most of the pictures on this page were taken by Suzette and Blair Brumbaugh. I didn’t have time to take pictures. I was surrounded by people all day long, from the time I started putting stuff out until the maintenance people hauled it away at the end of the day. My spinning and weaving demonstration was a big hit and I especially enjoyed working with my “weaver apprentices” during the day. When kids would come by I would explain how the loom works and then have them help me weave. They would throw the shuttle back and forth and pull the beater bar down. I also had lots of kids who wanted to weave potholders but their parents wouldn’t let them stay long enough to do it. I think seven kids finished potholders by the end of the day, most with lots of help from adults.
Tom was blacksmithing all day and always had a crowd around him. The College of Coastal Georgia sent their Historical Music Ensemble. They provided fife and drum music as well has talking about instruments that colonists might have played. The Cricket instructor came and did a wonderful job getting people involved with a game of cricket. I’m always amazed at how he makes sure that groups of all sizes and all ages participate and have a great time. A group of high school students invited children to join them in colonial games.
The day went by so fast that I was surprised when maintenance came around and said it was time to pack up. For some reason they wanted to go home. Maybe because they had been working since 7 a.m.! I got a great shot of Michael hauling the cannon back to be cleaned. The job isn’t done until all the guns are clean and all the tents put away. Ranger Bob, Maintenance man Sam, and Tom spent Sunday morning putting away the rest of the tents. Then Tom cleaned all the muskets as a living history demonstration on Sunday afternoon.
Colonial Day at Fort Frederica was a big success this year. It is good to feel like we are returning to normal. We loved talking to all the visitors who came and working with all the rangers and volunteers who made sure the day came off as planned.