Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will host the 11th Annual Port Oneida Rural Arts and Culture Fair on August 10-11 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visitors to the event may take a shuttle, drive, hike, or bike between six unique historic sites to enjoy a variety of activities at six sites: Burfiend Barn, Kelderhouse Farm, Thoreson Farm, Olsen Farm, Dechow Farm, and Port Oneida Schoolhouse.
Visitors can take the shuttle, drive, hike, or bike to the six unique historic sites where a variety of activities take place. One can almost imagine the life of these farm families as the clip-clop of horse and wagon is heard toting visitors down Port Oneida Road on a scenic drive-by of the community’s historic homes, schoolhouse, barns and outbuildings. Timber framers, quilters and basket weavers will be demonstrating their crafts. Potters and blacksmiths will be hard at work. And oxen will be cutting hay in the fields.
Live music is the featured attraction at the Burfiend Barn both days (August 10-11) of the 2012 Port Oneida Fair. The Burfiend Barn site is about a half-mile north of M-22 on Port Oneida Road (past the schoolhouse). The music was chosen to provide a variety of types that would have been performed in homes and at barn dances in the area during the Port Oneida historic period of 1855-1945. Music and dancing will be in the historic barn (a good example of timber-frame construction). During a break in the music, visitors are encouraged to take a walk around the site, watch the teams of horses working the field behind the barn, take guesses on the use of various horse-drawn farm implements, find out something about Michigan lighthouses and South Manitou Island, try a hand at traditional rope-making, or even learn about timber-frame building techniques. There are plenty of hands-on activities for the kids, too.
Thoreson Farm will be busy with artisans creating beautiful works; from MaryAnn Wilcox and her “tooth-brush” rugs, to Kyle Connelly and his blacksmithing skills. Lois Beardslee will be returning with her native crafts. She will be creating her porcupine quill boxes and “bite-bark” decorations, along with other unique items. Leonard Thoreson will be there, telling stories of being raised on this beautiful farmstead. Also, children’s activities will abound at Thoreson Farm. The music with storytelling will delight them as well as their parents. At the Thoreson site, you can pitch some horseshoes, make a project to take home, pet the horses, explore the vintage house and barn, and enjoy the food from Cherry Republic.
The Charles and Hattie Olsen Farm on M-22 is the welcoming center to the Port Oneida Rural Historic District year-round, and the home of Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (PHSB), offering interpretive exhibits, videos, and a trail guide of the late 1800s/early 1900s farming community. Fortunately, during the Port Oneida Fair, visitors get an up-close and personal peek into the domestic life of these rural American farmsteads when they come to life and bustle with activity. “The aroma of farmhouse cooking will greet our visitors when they step into the restored kitchen. It’s definitely one of the highlights.” said Susan Pocklington, Director of PHSB.
Susan Odom of Hillside Homestead will be demonstrating historic cooking and explaining foodways of the historic period. The theme at the farm will showcase the many kinds of domestic activities that were required to keep the farm and family running smoothly. Other demonstrations at the Olsen Farm include buttermaking, pickling, food preservation tours, family history recording, dulcimer music, quilting, a potato hunt, wagon-wheel rugmaking, broom making, horse and wagon rides, farmers market, and more. You can also get a Cherry Republic ice cream cone or stop in the Olsen House where the Port Oneida Fair poster by artist Greg Sobran, Port Oneida t-shirts, a trail guide, and history books on the region are available. The Olsen Farm will also be the site of the Friday night Port Oneida Picnic; an old fashioned chicken dinner and silent auction starting at 5:00 p.m. Tickets are only $15 and need to be purchased in advance. There will be music and activities to accompany the dinner at the Olsen Farm. Please contact PHSB for ticket information at www.phsb.org. The Port Oneida Fair Committee will be holding a silent auction, with items donated from demonstrators and the local community, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., with winners announced at 7:15 p.m. You must be present to claim your item.
The Kelderhouse site for the Port Oneida Fair will include the farmhouse, farmstead, and cemetery. The Kelderhouse family was the second to move to Port Oneida after the Burfiends. The Kelderhouse farmhouse will be open to the public and the Kelderhouse family members will have photos and family history available to view. The Kelderhouse Farm is also the site of a small Civil War encampment to include a field hospital with period surgical instruments and a bandaging demonstration made by the encampment’s nurses. An infantry camp will be in place with soldiers and their equipment. The men of Port Oneida often served in the 26th Michigan Infantry, 15th Michigan Infantry, or the 10th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. On Saturday, August 11, at 12:00 p.m. (noon), the Robert Finch Camp 14, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, will present a modified Grand Army of the Republic grave dedication service at the Kelderhouse cemetery. The cemetery is located just east of the house. Across the street at the Schoolhouse, there will be a display of Civil War gravestone rubbings.
Saturday evening from 8:00-10:30 p.m., the Thoreson Farm will be the site of the August Star Party. Join Park Rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) for an evening under the stars. Learn about the history of astronomy and view Mars, Saturn, and the southern Milky Way. Also, see the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. For all astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed. Park Rangers and GTAS staff will be wearing red glow bracelets at the event. The monthly Star Parties will be cancelled during inclement weather. The decision is usually made three hours in advance. Please call 231-326-5135, ext. 331, for a voicemail message with the decision.
The Port Oneida Fair is a free event, but you must purchase a Park Entrance Pass and prominently display it in your vehicle. Please call 231-326-5135, ext. 328, to make reservations (if you plan to bring a group) or ask questions. Program information is also available on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl and Twitter feed at twitter.com/#!/ SleepingBearNPS.