Take a trip to the 1700s on Saturday


The First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on The Green. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Attendees to Saturday’s festival in downtown Dover will get a glimpse of what life was like in colonial days, with performers, activities and food that emulate the feel of the state capital in the 1700s.

The First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair takes place on The Green from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., transporting visitors to the past.

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

The fair will have various performers offering demonstrations on activities and topics ranging from weaving to comedy to medicine.

“Timothy the weaver,” an 18th-century Irish linen worker, turns flax straw into linen products, while offering a running commentary of the demonstration. Imitating a traveling performer, “Signora Bella, the great Italian equilibrist,” will challenge death itself by juggling knives and flaming torches while balancing on a rope and a giant ball. “Dr. Balthazar and his Marvelous Miracle Medicine Show” will perform as well, with the good doctor using audience members in his show.

On the second floor of the Dover Century Club, Professor Horn will show a Punch and Judy routine that will thrill attendees with jokes and a slapstick performance suitable for all ages.

Among the new featured performers is magician Peter Gardiner, who will demonstrate “Artistic Deception, Dexterity of Hand, and Curious Entertainments surpassing anything of the kind that has hitherto been seen or attempted on this side of the Atlantic.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Moore will show attendees how beer was brewed centuries ago, and Rick Schuman will demonstrate his pole lathe. Knightengale’s Rest will showcase glassblowing.

Attendees can also learn about and witness basket weaving, spinning, printmaking and silhouette making.

Goods for sale include woodwork, yarn and glasswork.

“One important part of Market Fair, besides pure entertainment, is a chance to watch traditional craftspeople at work,” Ms. Zimmerman said. “Many people, especially children, have never had an opportunity to experience this.”

The artisans provide a chance for people to “learn something without realizing it,” Ms. Zimmerman said, noting the craftsmen explain their work to audience members as they engage in it.

The fair has plenty of activities for children, such as making slate buttons. There will be a photo booth as well, and aspiring photographers can take part in a competition to snap the best image of the fair in the Market Fair Instagram photo contest. Winners will receive a 2018 Delaware State Parks Pass and the chance to be used in promotional material for Market Fair 2018.

Attendees can also take part in a mock military event with the 1st Delaware Regiment.

The festival will include period music: Fiddler Rick Hudson will be wandering The Green, and the Dover English Country Dancers will be demonstrating dances and encouraging people to participate.

You won’t have to worry about going hungry in your trip to the past either. Visitors to the Dover Century Club can purchase 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 be offering sweets, including shortbread and molasses cookies, and the Lewes Historical Society will provide a demonstration of the 18th century chocolate-making process and taste chocolate too.

Past events have drawn up to 5,000 people, and Ms. Zimmerman is hoping for a similar crowd as long as the weather holds up. According to the National Weather Service, Saturday has a 30 percent chance of rain after 2 and will be partly sunny.

The fair is free and will take place regardless of weather, although events will move inside if it rains.

For more information, visit www.destateparks.com/marketfair.

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