Visitors to Fort Boonesborough this weekend will have an opportunity to see and feel what it was like for the people inside the fort when it was attacked by Native Americans during the 1778 siege of Fort Boonesborough.
More than 75 living history re-enactors from across Kentucky and nearby states will recreate the historic battle at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday.
The living history event also includes militia and settlers’ camps, a Native American village, merchants, traders and 18th century cannon firing demonstrations.
The participants in the siege are all history buffs who go to great lengths to ensure that everything — from their clothing, weapons, food and living quarters down to the smallest details on their hair and faces — is as close to the original items of the period as possible.
“Everyone tries to keep it as authentic as possible,” said Bobby Cotterell of Lexington, a militiaman. “You won’t see any modern items around. Everyone has spent a lot of time making sure their camps and their equipment and everything is as close to the real thing as we can.”
While all the re-enactors are proud of their authenticity, none are more so than the two dozen or so Native American participants, who are eager to share the details of their heritage.
Angel Mudd, a Cherokee, who grew up participating in re-enactments with her family, continues to share events like the siege with her own husband and two sons.
“For the Native Americans, this is education, but it’s more than that, it’s spiritual to us and it’s important that we pass it on to our kids,” Mudd said. “I grew up in it and my children are growing up in it. I think thats important to pass on.”
Justin Huston of Dayton, Ohio, also a Cherokee whose camp name is Hawk That Flies in Snow, said the re-enactment was a way of reconnecting with his heritage.
“I love doing re-enactments because they bring history to life,” Huston said. “I grew up on native culture, and I picked up a lot of things from other historians and anthropologists and I use that in making most of my equipment and things that I use. These re-enactments are just a great way to share it with others.”
Many of the participants have been coming to Fort Boonesborough for years, but there are also some who are new to re-enacting who are as enthusiastic about it as the long-timers.
Ken Hill a retired Kentucky State Trooper from Columbia, who along with his 8-year-old son Jake and friends Bob Wilson, Barry Jones, Gary Pike and Bart Cain have set up camp just outside the front gate of the fort, is participating in his second siege.
“I’ve been doing this about two years and I love it. I’m still learning, but everybody is willing to help you. Plus it’s something I get to share with my son,” Hill said. “I’ve always been a history buff and love to camp, I get to do it with friends and I still get to carry a gun. What’s not to love about this?”
Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer has participated in the past five events at the fort and said the older participants take the newer ones under their wings.
“The camaraderie between the regulars and the few newbies like us is great,” Palmer said. “They are really helpful and everyone is so friendly. It’s just a great atmosphere and it brings history to life to the visitors and to everyone who participates. It’s pretty fun stuff.”
For the participants who have been coming to Fort Boonesborough for years, the weekend is almost a homecoming.
“We’re all family here” Mudd said. “This is like coming to an annual family reunion. Everyone is going back and forth between camps and catching up with friends. It’s just a big family.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.