OGDENSBURG — The gates had just opened on July 20 for the beginning of Founder’s Weekend at Van Rensselaer Point, and the sights and sounds of battle were already underway. The sounds of shots zinged through the air, followed by billows of smoke wafting around the battle site.
“We’ve already got a skirmish going on,” said Timothy W. Cryderman, chairman of the event and second vice president of the Fort La Presentation Association.
But that wasn’t the only thing going on. There were also presentations on using flint and steel to start a fire, cartridge rolling, the attack on Fort Bull, maypole dancing, “Synopsis of the French and Indian War” and a mock duel.
There was also tomahawk throwing, fencing demonstrations, a water battle, children’s muster, a land battle, scavenger hunt, children’s activities and ladies tea.
Visitors would also find colonial trade demonstrations, camp life and exhibits throughout the grounds.
And that was only day one of the two-day event that showcases land and water battles of the French and Indian War, as well as French, British, native and maritime encampments.
“We try to educate through entertainment,” Mr. Cryderman said.
It’s also a fundraiser for the Fort Le Presentation Association.
The re-enactors come from several areas, including Ontario, Quebec, New York and sometimes Pennsylvania.
“Pretty much the northeast U.S. There’s a lot of local people,” he said.
There were some special guests from Rome, N.Y. on June 20. They were on hand to view the activities and take that knowledge with them when they returned to Rome, as they prepare to develop their own site.
“They’re basically following in our footsteps,” Mr. Cryderman said.
Gerald Findley from Canton was among the re-enactors on site. He had several styles of sashes that were on sale.
“It’s an ancient craft. It cannot be done on a loom. The only tools you need are your fingers,” he said.
He said, on average, one of the colorful sashes could take about 40 hours to create.
Mr. Findley, a retired teacher, started doing fingerweaving about 20 years ago. He was working with the Boy Scouts, who had chosen costumes from the French and Indian War for an Order of the Arrow event. But they either couldn’t find the sashes they needed, or they were too expensive. Now, the rest is history.
A few tents away, The Mountain Forge was offering a variety of items, many of them handmade like skins, wooden swords and handbags, along with other offerings like toys and books.
Elsewhere, Grover Katzman was a busy man, as he provided information about his vintage, colonial-era cannon to interested spectators. He discussed everything from the variety of ammunition used in the battle to how the men would fire the cannon.
There’s the case shot, which essentially turns the cannon into an oversized shotgun. Also on display was a chain shot — two cannon balls connected via chain, and used to take out sails on warships.
“It takes the sails out. They’re going to sit there all day,” providing an opportunity for the opposition to do more damage to the ship, he said.
Founder’s Weekend continues on July 21, starting with a 7:30 a.m. Mass. The gates open at 10 a.m., and events run until 2:30 p.m. For the full schedule and more information about the Fort La Presentation Association, visit www.fort1749.org.
The gist of it
n WHAT: Founder’s Weekend is taking place July 20 and 21 at Van Rensselaer Point in Ogdensburg
n WHO: The two-day event showcases land and water battles of the French and Indian War, as well as French, British, native and maritime encampments
n WHEN: Gates open at 10 a.m. July 21 and close at 2:30 p.m.