Market At Washingtonburg- AHEC September 18-20, 2009

Posted By on September 25, 2009

The Army Heritage and Education Center, I have to say, is a great site.  As well it should be, as it has some of the best set ups for our entire Army History.  Earlier this year I participated in a Timeline event at this site, which was lots of fun because they have actual standing camps for most of the eras of our history- from a simple f&i cabin, all the way through to modern day bunkers from our war(s) in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  But I digress- that was in May.

The Market at Washingtonburg is a 3 day event, focused solely on 18th Century life, more specifically, life in the military during this era.  This year, they also decided to add in sutlers, making it the second largest Market Fair in the Mid Atlantic (Fort Frederick being first).  I went with Dagworthy’s Company, one of my British F&I units.

Upon arrival we were told we could set up near the Revolutionary War Americans, as the British regiments had backed out at the last second.  To what reason they did is not for me to speculate. But it was rather dissapointing, at least for the other Revolutionary War reenactors on site.  Dagworthys, being as we wear Red Coats, were allowed to camp there, which was also close to the Children’s games area- the primary purpose for our attendance.  So TM (one of the other members of Dagworthy’s), and myself set up our fly and 2 tents, and hit dinner, then I returned and retired to my tent for the night.  The temperatures this weekend were perfect for sleeping outside, and I slept better than I have at events all season.

Friday was “attack of the children” day.  School classes from all over the region bussed in kids ranging from 4th grade to 8th grade, and brought them through in groups between 6 and 60.  Dr. Bloodsworth from Newport News was there, and was short a spare set of Surgical hands, so I sat with him and went through the finer points of 18th century medicine, demonstrating amputations and trepannings on many different children, as well as scaring them with dental tools and glyster pipes.  The games looked to be successful as well, from what I could see in the distance.  In the span of about 6 hours, we saw over 1400 children, with only about 4 feeling sick to their stomachs or passing out from heat.  Additionally we had about another 1200 visitors during the day.

In the late afternoon, I was able to spirit away for a bit and take a stroll around the sutlers.  Most of them I was familiar with from Market Fair, but I had to say hi to my friends who run Fort Augusta Woodworking, as well as peek in at  Bushnell bottle company.  I have learned that in being a one stop shop for 18th century medicine, you need lots of bottles, and they have some of the best.  I got the additional suprise from them, because they are now carrying Jamestown Glasshouse glass products, at lower costs than getting them from the Glasshouse.  Score 1 for the sutlers!  I made an order of a new Independance bottle, 2 bottles for decoctions, and a couple small bottles for my apothecary box.  Then talk of dinner came about, and I ended up going to dinner with the Fort Augusta  and Bushnell Groups.  It was a great dinner, with good conversation and grand company.   Again, when I climbed into the tent to sleep, it was a fabulous sleep.

Saturday saw me set up my surgeons tools under the Dagworthy’s fly, and ply my trade to the parents of any children who might come by to play games.  And come they did.  To the tune of 8,000 people.  The games were played constantly, and I was almost constantly discussion different facets of medicine to people, grossing some out with my extracted teeth, and getting really good questions about my setup.  At one point I took a short walk, and saw a gentleman who looked familiar pass me.  It was Bill Barker, who portrays Thomas Jefferson in Colonial Williamsburg.  He was there to put on the play Jefferson and Adams in Carlisle, but was doing some shopping of his own. He portrays a fantastic Jefferson, and one that actually inspired me to learn more about the man many years ago during a trip to Williamsburg with my family.  So I called out to him, and told him such.  It was great to talk to him, and he even came down to see my setup.  He complimented me on my kit and said that I looked to be doing a great job.   He then relayed to me a story about the beloved Jefferson and his last days- he actually died of Prostate Cancer! A fascinating story I can add to my bag of ancedotes when discussing things such as cancer and common ailments during the Era.  A fantastic time indeed!

Saturday night I was honored with the privilege to have dinner with George Washington and Von Heer’s Provost company, who were extremely gracious to share their table, conversation, and even a taste of their dinner.  Mrs. Thompson (Kim), who does their cooking, is an exceptional cook.  She made a beautiful meat pie with potatoes and carrots, and the sample I got, I ate every bite.  Exquisite cooking.  That night I sat around the fire with them, keeping warm from the chill that was filling the air, watching a strange light in the sky, and just enjoying the company of new acquaintances.  I continue to be honored by the great people I meet in this hobby, and they are no exception.

Saturday Night's pie

Sunday morning I setup under the fly again, but I was not alone- Matt from our unit arrived and showed off his rifle and talked about it to the public while I again tried to pull out teeth and amputate broken arms.  However I ended up having an absolutely fascinating question from a girl of about 9 years old. She wanted to know about consumption. She had recently read a book that mentioned it, and wanted more information on the subject.  So I was able to inform her about the illness (Tuberculosis as we know it today) , what I would do to cure it, and how it took many lives.  A somber subject for someone so young, but still great to get a new, unique question.

Teardown went quickly, and I was grateful for it- which is odd for me at most events.  Perhaps its the fact that the season is almost over, or the chill in the air, or that I was out for 3 days instead of the usual 1 or 2 days that made me ready to come home, but I was definitely ready.

Next year, I hope that AHEC will take the suggestions of people to invite more groups or make it more of an 18th Century camping event like Market Fair.  I think the sutlers were grateful for the event, however it would have been a bit better if there were more people to buy their wares.  I think in total there were only about 60 actual reenactors (not including sutlers), and with 80 sutlers, I don’t know that it was a good sales event for any of them.  But we’ll see next year.  I’d also like to see the school groups scheduled with a bell or something so they only get 20 minutes at each site or so, so we don’t have overlap or backup of groups, which was a small problem we were having with them on Friday.

Kudos to AHEC for water, excellent port a potties, and making sure we were happy throughout.  Now if only we could shut down 81 while we’re there. 🙂

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