Monday, June 17, 2013

FSJ Visits the Spring National Shoot

The full display at the Spring National Shoot.
The Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project was invited to display information and artifacts from Fort St. Joseph at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association’s Spring National Shoot. Scott MacPherson, a graduate student at Western Michigan University, volunteered to travel to Friendship, Indiana to represent the project.  

Some vendors and campers in "primitive" style.
On the afternoon of Friday, June 7th, I arrived in Friendship, Indiana, a quaint little village in the south east corner of Indiana, situated forty miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio, and barley twenty miles north of the Kentucky border. In a beautiful valley, I discovered a park like environment where thousands of people were still arriving eager for the competition scheduled to begin the next morning. Some people were in RVs, while others stayed in the primitive camp, an area of about ten acres in size, where everyone dressed and lived in period attire and material. My host at this event was Leslie Martin Conwell, the Events Coordinator. She was more than helpful and provided me with whatever I needed to set up our exhibit and to aid in making me personally comfortable. She was a wonderful help. Her husband Rick physically assisted me with some heavy moving and other logistical issues as they arose, he also was a big help to my efforts.

The exhibit was entitled “The People of Fort St. Joseph: The Archaeology and History of an 18th Century Missionary-Garrison-Trading Post Complex on the Frontier of New France,” and even before I had completed setting everything up people began to meander into the museum out of curiosity.

Display cases featuring gun parts and artifacts from daily life.
From the very first person that came into the museum to the last, the overall reaction to the project at Fort St. Joseph was of interest and enthusiasm. I spoke to many people about the history of the fort and the history of the archaeological work done there since we began. The people in Friendship were fascinated with the artifacts that Alexander Brand and I put together for the two display cases. I would also like to thank Jordan Wojdula for his enthusiastic assistance in the early stages of the process.

The response from Leslie and the rest of the facility staff was very positive and I believe we reached many people that were not aware of the ongoing project at Fort St. Joseph that now plan to be more engaged with developments at the site. To help spread the word I actively handed out the web site address so that people could visit the online site dedicated to FSJ.

While I was there I also took a tour of the grounds and watched many marksmen from literally all around the country take aim at winning this year’s competition. I visited dozens of venders selling their goods on what is called “Commercial Row”. While on this tour I ran into a good friend of Fort St. Joseph, Larry Horrigan working on one his many handmade guns.

It was a wonderful experience and opportunity to speak to so many people concerning our project that are genuinely interested in the period and everything about it. 


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