story & photos courtesy Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
History comes alive this weekend at six historic sites during the annual Port Oneida Fair at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) from 10 AM – 4 PM this Friday and Saturday (August 12-13, 2016). The two-day event includes rural history demonstrations, activities and special events each day. The fair will also feature live animals, such as a team of oxen cutting hay.
New presentations for 2016 include a logging demonstration at the Olsen farm, an introduction to grafted apples and agricultural grains at the Kelderhouse farm, and a traditional building skills exhibition at the Burfiend barn. An Artisans Market will be held at the Olsen farm, replacing last year’s silent auction. It will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, and will run continuously until all artists’ items are sold.
Visitors may take a shuttle, drive, hike, or bike to six unique historic sites where a variety of activities take place. Over 80 demonstrators will be at the Thoreson, Olsen, Burfiend, Dechow, and Kelderhouse farms as well as the schoolhouse. Timber framers, quilters, blacksmiths, and basket weavers will be demonstrating their crafts, and park rangers, volunteers and Port Oneida residents will share their stories.
Friday’s old-fashioned chicken dinner will be held at the Olsen farm, starting at 4:30 p.m. Dinner is served from 4:30-6:30 p.m. with music until 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and need to be purchased in advance. Proceeds benefit the Port Oneida Fair. Please contact Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear for ticket information at www.phsb.org.
On Saturday, August 13, astronomy activities will take place at the Thorson farm. A solar viewing event will be offered from 4:00-6:00 p.m. and a “star party” from 9:00-11:00 p.m. Park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be on-hand to share telescopes and knowledge while viewing the sun, then the full moon, Mars, Saturn, and the Perseid meteor shower. Visitors will learn about astronomy as it was in the 1900s. A flashlight is recommended for the evening astronomy event.
The Port Oneida Fair is presented by the National Lakeshore in partnership with the non-profit organization Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. The fair promotes the preservation of rural traditional skills, crafts, landscapes and communities of the Upper Great Lakes Region through education and artistic expression.
The Port Oneida Rural Historic District contains 19 historic farms (four privately owned), more than 300 buildings, and over 3,000 acres of land. In addition to farmhouses, barns, and a variety of specialized outbuildings, the historic district contains the fields, orchards, fence rows, roads, forests, and a historic cemetery. Port Oneida is the largest publicly owned and intact historic agricultural district in the United States.
By partnering with Bay Area Recycling for Charities, the National Lakeshore will be going “green” and composting or recycling all materials possible throughout the fair. Special bins will be placed at each site. In order to reduce what is being put into a landfill, compostable service ware will be used. These items (cups, plates, and utensils) are made from plant-based materials and will break down in a compost pile within weeks, as opposed to plastics and paper material that would take generations to decompose in a landfill.