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Second Wolfeboro Colonial Encampment draws more reenactors

Living history demonstration had many visitors, musket and cannon firings

REENACTORS in the 2011 Wolfeboro Colonial Encampment (left to right, with the French generally on the left and the Scots and British on the right): Ted Wright, Krysia Rodriguez, Dwight Jones, Francois Gousse, Laurie Norman, Cindy Wright (kneeling), Don Dupuis, John Maxson, Mickayla Stockman, Matthew Haley, Brian Stockman, Patrick Meyers, Kevin Meyers, David Thompson, and Larry Aiello. Missing from photo: Christian Boudman (who portrays General James Wolfe), Gary Staples and Robert Winer. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
July 21, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Despite last-minute developments that reduced the number of reenactors available and a few logistical problems, the Second Wolfeboro Colonial Encampment, held last Friday through Sunday, July 15-17, was enjoyed by participants and visitors alike.

The first Colonial Encampment was held last year at Brewster Field as part of the year-long celebration of the naming of Wolfeboro in 1759 for British General James Wolfe, the hero of the Plains of Abraham who defeated the French army and captured Quebec City in September of that year, an event that led ultimately to British victory in the French and Indian War. Wolfe and his opponent General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm both died in that battle.

The idea of holding a French and Indian War encampment came about through discussions between the Wolfeboro 250th Committee and two local reenactors, Dwight Jones of New Durham and Ted Wright of Tuftonboro.

Reenactors take on the identities of known historical persons and learn to dress, act and think like them. Clothes, tools, tents and weapons all need to be authentic to the period. Part of the role of a reenactor is to be a spokesman for the person emulated and the causes he or she believed in. Like the solders of the time reenactors hold encampments where they live, sleep and eat will holding drills and mock battles. Visitors to the encampment can interact with the participants who answer questions and demonstrate living and fighting skills needed to survive during that period.

Both Jones and Wright had been involved in a number of French and Indian War reenactments, including the Big One, at Fort Ticonderoga in New York State. They also knew fellow reenactors all over New England and into Canada. The weekend of Aug. 20-22 was selected and Brewster Academy gave permission to use its Memorial Field to set up the tent camp.

It turned out that the weekend chosen conflicted with a major Living History weekend in Hillsborough that many reenactors had already made commitments to attend. Nonetheless by the start of the event Saturday morning 13 reenactors had assembled, a tent city was erected and campfires established. The Libby Museum participated, showing children a number of Colonial-era games for kids. The Wolfeboro Area Farmers' Market also brought produce and baked good to a special market tent erected for them and the local farmers wore period clothes. As an added attraction, though separate from the encampment itself, Loren Ackerman of Wells Fargo Advisors arranged to have the Wells Fargo Stage come and offer rides around the Brewster campus and Main Street, which helped attract visitors to the encampment as well. Because of the horses, musket and cannon demonstrations were not attempted until the stage head left town. Kids and parents alike were able not only to talk with the reenactors and learn about that period of American history, but they were also able to handle period tools and weapons, watch a blacksmith at work and learn how leather harnesses and other goods were made.

By the time the event ended on a somewhat soggy Sunday everyone agreed it was fun and worth doing again.

New co-sponsors, new dates

Even as the Wolfeboro 250th Committee completed its mission, the Encampment subcommittee planned a second encampment for 2011 with the aim of establishing it as an annual summer event in Wolfeboro that could serve ultimately as an anchor for a Wolfeboro Colonial Old Home Week.

Jim Rogers, President of the Wolfeboro Historical Society encouraged the committee to carry on and offered to sponsor the event. To avoid a major scheduling conflict, the date for the encampment was moved up to July and Brewster agreed to make the field available for the dates July 14-17. Ethan Hipple, Director of the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Department offered to co-sponsor the event, endorsing the hope that it could be established as an annual event. A secondary encampment as Brewster Beach was also planned to allow the possibility of a boat skirmish on the Bay.

By Saturday morning a total of 17 reenactors had assembled. In contrast to the 2010 encampment where 11 of the 13 reenactors represented French combatants, this time there were three from Colonel Jonathan Bagley's 3rd Massachusetts Provincial Regiment and two from the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot to represent the other side in the conflict. With no horses to consider there were more frequent musket and cannon demonstrations, including a few on the Bay that attracted the Marine Patrol. Instead of one "sutler," a civilian merchant who sells provision to the army in the field, this year there were two, who both provided the opportunity for visitors to purchase flags and replicas of tools, artifacts and weapons from the period.

The Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market also returned, but with most produce still ripening in the hot summer, offerings were limited to baked goods, onions and potatoes. The market was also separated from the encampment to give the farmers more flexibility in setting up their displays.

A special feature this year was a carving demonstration by reenactor/sculptor Brian Stockman, who worked on a carved statue of General Wolfe during the encampment. General Wolfe himself, portrayed by Wolfeboro's Christian Boudman, also visited the encampment on Saturday and posed a bit for Stockman.

Most encouraging, during the encampment several people who were reenactors stopped by, liked what they saw and asked to be invited to a 2012 encampment.

The committee plans to set next year's dates as soon as possible and begin making plans for an improved and larger encampment next year. Among other added features being considered are lectures and formal demonstrations during the event as well as providing a detailed program and better signage.

Anyone interested in helping plan the Third Colonial Encampment can contact the Wolfeboro Historical Society, the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Department or Tom Beeler, civilian member of the reenactors committee at this newspaper.

The committee thanks Brewster Academy, the Town of Wolfeboro and everyone who came for their support.

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Martin Lord Osman
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