The day after our third Colonial Day, we had another big event here at Fort Frederica. Most parks have a Friends group where local people work in partnership with a National Park site. Last year, the Friends of Fort Frederica was reformed into a partnership with the National Park service and the Fort. So last Sunday evening we had a celebration of their becoming an official group and recognition of the charter members.
The Friends of Fort Frederica has been variously affiliated with Fort Frederica National Monument. The Fort Frederica Association formed initially back in the 1930’s to purchase and preserve what remained of Fort Frederica. Then they lobbied our national government for recognition of the site as a national monument. After the national monument was established in 1948, the group became more social, holding special events and running the bookstore. As the needs of the park increased with decreased government funding, the Friends group was reformed to preserve and promote Fort Frederica National Monument.
Most recently, the Friends of Fort Frederica worked with park staff and Congress this last year to expand the acreage of the park. In the public lands bill recently signed by President Trump, Fort Frederica gets 55 additional acres of land, including the site of General James Oglethorpe’s only house in Georgia. The Friends group will continue to raise money to support the park in ongoing projects. Three that are targeted in the next ten years are a pavilion by the river, an Archaeology Education building, and a new movie in the Visitors Center.
Sunday evening the Friends of Fort Frederica Charter members gathered for dinner and recognition. We put up a board in the Visitors Center with all the charter member names on it. All of the staff and volunteers at the park worked hard to make the evening special. We cleaned and spruced up the grounds every day in the previous week. On Sunday we moved tables and set up lights. Luminaria lined the path to the Fort. The living history volunteers dressed up and demonstrating spinning, candlemaking, blacksmithing, and dyeing. At twilight our musket and cannon crew shot off their guns and cannon.
The weather was perfect for the big event and the Friends of Fort Frederica raised over $12,000 for future projects. I took a little time away from demonstrating to walk out to the Fort at sunset. Gorgeous!
I am glad people are willing to give their money, just as we give our time, to preserving and protecting this beautiful place. Generations to come will be able to enjoy it just as we can.