Conococheague Faire celebrates with music, activities and more
WELSH RUN, Pa. — A fall event at the 18th-century era Conococheague Institute gets a new moniker and some new activities for its 16th year.
The Conococheague Faire: 300 Years of American History from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the site, 12995 Bain Road, south of Mercersburg. Admission costs $10 per person; $20 per carload.
“We’re starting our fall festivals and fairs over again. We have had them previously and they were very successful. This year, we have several new things and several things that we’ve never done before,” said Cindy Fink, director of Education for Conococheague Institute.
Two of those new things include a nod to veterans, and an 18th-century artifact.
“Inside the Visitor’s Center will be a salute to veterans, and we are highlighting World War I and World War II. We will have photographs and memorabilia from both of those wars,” Fink said. “On the second level of the Visitors Center, will be an original Mason and Dixon Compass that they actually used when they were laying down the Mason Dixon Line.”
That compass was made in 1790 by John Scott of Chambersburg Pa., and will be the subject of a lecture by exhibit organizers Robert Angle and Wayne Twigg at 4:15 p.m.
Fink said the grounds of the 37-acre site will be filled with vendors, most of which will both demonstrate and offer their wares for sale. Participants include a weaver, a Shaker box maker, furniture makers Seneca Creek Joinery, Honey Hole Apiary with honey products and Native Niche, showing and offering plants indigenous to the time of this site for sale.
Rachel B.K. Nichols, development and communications director at the institute said there will be live music throughout the day, encompassing nearly four centuries of harmonies.
“I can’t believe that we’re going to have 300 years of music here on the site. But the reality is, the site has been active and populated for just about 300 years. So you can sit here and hear the music that your great-great-great-great-great ancestors heard here at Rock Hill Farm at the Conococheague Institute,” she said.
Huband-and-wife duo The Weavers will play stringed music from the mid-1700s, followed by the Hancock String Band.
“They sort of specialize in music from the early to mid-1800s, and especially of the Civil War-era. They play guitar, fiddle and vocals, so I know people are going to enjoy that. Some of it’s very poignant, parts of it are just toe-tapping tunes,” Nichols said.
Third Lane Barbershop Quartet from Hagerstown also will perform. Nichols said, “that’s interesting because the barbershop quartet movement sort of began in the late 1800s, but has some African-American roots with those close harmonies.”
The Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Brass Ensemble under the direction of Bill Hollen also will perform.
“You’ll be hearing from them probably music from the Civil War and going up into the early 20th century with the Sousa marches and regimental type tunes,” Nichols said.
Hip-hop artist Shane Crabtree and the Praise Choir from Hubcity Vineyard in Hagerstown are also on the bill.
“Nobody needs to worry about bringing their kids, this will be family friendly,” Nichols said. “I expect (they’re) really going to light up the site.”
The final act of the event are 1980s pop tribute band Made in the 80’s.
“They have a fabulous local following and I’m happy to say I’m kind of one of them. They just know how to put on a really good show,” Nichols said.
Food will be available from various vendors, including an Amish doughnut vendor, The Shawnee Kitchen that features Native American food, Jarhead Barbecue, offering American barbecue, and ice cream from Antietam Dairy.
There will be fun and learning opportunities for kids as well.
“The children’s area is going to focus in on Native American games and crafts. We’re very excited about that. Turtle Swartz is going to be running that along with some of her friends. So we have a special area just for kids. And it’s kind of a space where you can leave the kids there and wonder around the rest of the site,” Nichols said.
And first-time attendees to the institute most likely will return, Nichols said.
“When you come to the Conococheague Settlement, you’re stepping back in time a little bit. And I know my own experience was after I was here for one visit, I was hooked. There’s just something magical about the place. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it. But once you’re here, you just keep getting pulled back again and again,” she said.
Fink said the site features a unique opportunity to experience history.
“This is one of very few sites in Pennsylvania that is a pre-French and Indian War site. Our early history is not like Williamsburg. It’s not like Philadelphia or Baltimore. This is our history. And many of the farms around this area are generational farms that go way, way back. And I think it is a wonderful opportunity to come and see how people lived (and) how they did things,” she said.
Top photo: A woodworker gives a demonstration during a previous event at the Conococheague Institute. A fair celebrating 300 years of history will be on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the site. (Herald-Mail file photo)