Market Fair to recreate sights and sounds of 18th century Dover

DOVER — The Dover Green is now part of the First State National Historical Park, but in the 1700s it was the center of life in Dover and the site of annual autumn market fairs.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on The Green, the First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair recreates the sights and sounds of these eagerly anticipated events, and allows visitors to leave the 21st century behind for a few hours.

“It’s hard to believe, but this is the sixth year for the Market Fair on The Green in Dover,” said Heritage Park Superintendent Sarah Zimmerman, “and each year more and more people have attended as word has spread of what a fun, free event this is for all ages.”

04dsn Market Fair by .

Signora Bella brings to life the tradition of the traveling performer of the 1700s as she juggles knives and flaming torches while balancing on a rope and a giant ball. She will perform at Saturday’s First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair.
(Submitted photo)

In past years, almost 5,000 visitors chatted with living history characters, watched traditional artisans at work, and enjoyed comical interactive performances — all with an 18th-century twist.

Two favorite performers returning this year are “Timothy the Weaver” and “Signora Bella, the Great Italian Equilibrist.”

Timothy the 18th-century Irish Linen Worker, turns ordinary-looking flax straw into very serviceable linen products. Commentary during the continuous demonstration provides the human touch to these nearly forgotten skills.

Signora Bella brings to life the tradition of the traveling performer of the 1700s as she juggles knives and flaming torches, while balancing on a rope and a giant ball.

New for this year will be Professor Horn’s Punch and Judy Puppet Show. Another new addition will be Lorenzo Dow, portrayed by Mike Follin of Dr. Balthazar fame. Mr. Follin will be unveiling a new character with ties to Dover and Delaware. Lorenzo Dow was an eccentric traveling Methodist preacher with a reputation for never disappointing his audiences.

Last year’s popular artisans returning this year include Mike Radebach demonstrating traditional blacksmithing techniques all day long, and Ed Long of Pennsylvania, a journeyman and past Guildmaster of the Honourable Company of Horners, demonstrates how to make a powder horn, including the intricate stage of carving. His finished horns have won numerous blue ribbons and will be offered for sale. Woodworking, spinning, and silhouette making are also among the trades visitors can see.

A new, and  rarely seen, addition to the Market Fair is Marcus Beauregard. He will demonstrate the art of intaglio printing. Back by popular demand, colonial beer brewer Jeff Moore will return to demonstrate traditional beer making methods using 1700s-style troughs and tools. A recognized expert in early American glassblowing and a purist, John Shelton learned glassblowing as an apprentice.

Modern-day photographers can join in the competition to capture the best pictures of the Fifth Annual Market Fair in the Market Fair Photo contest. Winners in both categories — Fan Favorite and Reader’s Choice — will win a 2016 Delaware State Parks Pass and the chance to be used in promotional material for Market Fair 2016.

The Dover Century Club will be turned into the Market Fair Inn where fair-goers can buy a lunch of pulled pork or chicken sandwiches and other delights, with profits benefiting the Century Club’s Building and Scholarship Fund. Old World Breads from Lewes will offer sweet treats for sale including its famous shortbread and molasses cookies for the first time this year.

Admission to Market Fair is free, with refreshments and handcrafted items available for purchase.

The event is rain or shine and will move to indoor locations around The Green in the event of inclement weather.

Information about all the demonstrators and entertainers appearing at Market Fair can be found at

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