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The Old is New: Ohio Valley Frontier Days

From tossing a tomahawk to making rag dolls, there will be two days of hands-on-history as Historic Fort Steuben presents its annual festival, Ohio Valley Frontier Days, June 1st and 2nd.

This year’s event not only recreates early American life, but also will cut the ribbon on the newest addition to the Fort: The Museum of Surveying.


Since the fort was originally built to protect the surveyors of the Northwest Territory in 1786, members of the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio have been involved with Historic Fort Steuben since its reconstruction. Working with students and staff of the University of Akron Surveying and Mapping Program, PLSO members have developed the museum that will trace

the history of surveying from the ropes and measuring sticks used by the Egyptians to the drones and GPS units which are now common in modern surveying.


At the festival, PLSO members will welcome the public for the opening of the display and to teach the history and use of the chain and compass, the 18th century method of surveying.


Surveying will be just one of the activities at the event which features reenactors, crafters, archaeologists, and musicians to celebrate life on the Ohio frontier. Visitors can meet the blacksmith, the candlemaker, the flintknapper, and the broom maker. They can tour the Officers’ Quarters, the Enlisted Men’s Quarters, the Commissary, the Quartermaster’s Store, and the Hospital as well as take in the panoramic view from the upper level of the Guard House. Artisans will offer their crafts for sale from brooms to woodcrafts to jewelry. Danielle McMahon will have her Irish Cottage gifts and Lightning Creek Forge will offer their handcrafted iron goods. New this year, High Flight Herbs and Lavender Farm will be selling delightful lavender products as well as wood-turned items.


Frontier Dan will guide participants in the Tomahawk Toss, members of the 1st American Regiment teach the skills of shooting a musket, and Baron von Steuben will teach drill to young recruits. An opportunity to handle and use period tools will be offered as well. Visitors can meet the archaeologists from Franciscan University of Steubenville and explore the ongoing dig on the site.

On the Fort stage, the traditional musicians of Faire May will be performing at 1pm on Saturday and award-winning singer/songwriter Steve Free at 2pm on Sunday. Author and artist Alan Fitzpatrick will have his original art for sale. More books, toys, and gifts will be found in the Museum Shop in the Visitor Center.


Period music with traditional instruments will be presented in the Exhibit Hall by Rich & Kathy Small on Saturday and on Sunday by Bill Schilling. Representatives of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Ohio Genealogical Society will be stationed nearby.


Food vendors include Janet’s Gelato with her cool Italian ice cream, Tasty Indonesia with barbecue chicken on a stick and other unique dishes, and The Chew Chew Train with their famous “smash burgers” and fries. Renee Thompson will offer cool flavored ice, too. On Sunday only, Dr. Sweets will offer his sweet desserts and treats.


Raffle tickets are on sale for a beautiful handmade quilt made by local artisan Helen Sweeney. The drawing will be held on Monday, after the festival. There will be a scavenger hunt for the kids, too, with a chance to win a prize.


Crafters, and other retail booths will be set up in the Fort and food vendors will be in Visitor Center Parking Lot. Admission to the Fort will be $7/adults, $3/youth 6-12, and under 6 free. There are also special family rates. For more information call 740.283.1787.

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