YOUNGSTOWN – Hundreds of authentically clad French, British and Native American re-enactors will join thousands of visitors for one of Old Fort Niagara’s largest events, the French and Indian War Encampment. The three-day event begins Friday and continues through Sunday.
The 35th annual event re-creates the historic siege of Fort Niagara in 1759 and features large-scale battle re-enactments at 2 p.m. each day. Also offered are living history camps, period music and hands-on activities for children. Dozens of re-enactors will portray 18th century artisans and merchants.
New this year will be a woodland re-enactment of the crucial Battle of La Belle Famille on Sunday morning, with re-enactors in the roles of fighters in the woods, much as they would have in 1759. Also new, on Sunday afternoon, will be a re-creation of the 18th century funeral of Gen. John Prideaux, the British commander killed during the siege.
Emerson said that in addition to re-enactors, the popular event draws 7,500 visitors each year.
He pointed out that the French and Indian War took place before the American Revolution.
Among highlights this weekend:
• 10 a.m. Friday , when all troops and Native American warriors assemble for a grand parade. This is followed by a French and Indian attack on a frontier settlement. Young people will be offered a chance to “enlist” in the New York Provincial forces to help the British capture the fort.
At 2 p.m., both sides will mass for a battle re-enactment, followed at 3 p.m. by a French artillery bombardment.
• 10 a.m. Saturday, a Native American lacrosse game. Battle strategy and planning meetings will be re-created for visitors. An artillery demonstration will be followed at 2 p.m. by a re-creation of the French counterattack.
After the battle re-enactment, there will two programs, a drill to “enlist” children in the fort’s garrison and 18th century games. At 3:30 p.m. the French artillery will once again open fire against their British attackers.
• 11 a.m. Sunday, reenactment of the Battle of La Belle Famille and capture of the fort. Visitors are encouraged to arrive by 10 a.m. so there will be time for them to walk or be shuttled to the battle site. Throughout the day, there will be artillery demonstrations and military music.
At 2 p.m., the British will make their final assault on the fort, this time forcing the French to surrender.
As the encampment closes Sunday, surrender ceremonies will be followed by the British commander’s funeral ceremony.
Old Fort Niagara is 14 miles north of Niagara Falls via the Robert Moses Parkway North.