Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jubilee Colonial Trade Fair

Thanks so much for the kind words about my 1780's dress! I was truly happy to get a chance to make one, and the event I wore it to did not fail my expectations. It was one of the best events I have ever been to.

This was the 6th year for the annual Colonial Trade Fair at Jubilee. From talking to people at the event, it appears that this is the only event like this in the central Illinois area. Some people I talked to journeyed from hours, even states, away to attend. We were lucky that we live only about a half hour from the park where the event is held. Here are David and Judah and I right before we left home:

It was a slightly chilly, slightly cloudy, windy morning. However, by the time we arrived at the park the skies had cleared and it turned out to be a perfect autumn day.

Right away people came up and introduced themselves. I have never been made to feel more at home by any reenactment group I have ever been acquainted with.

I loved the location, tucked away in a hidden field at the wild and beautiful Jubilee state park. Gold and brown grasses, touched with crimson here and there, the bright blue sky and serene clouds, the trees just starting to turn from their summer green to gold. It was absolutely quiet with no city sounds or sights or smells.

Tucked away in a little hollow in the woods, down a short path, was the Indian Village.

It was my favorite feature of the event. I was fascinated by the dome shaped wigwams, layered thick with handwoven mats and canvases.

One lady was drying pumpkin rings and roasting venison over a small fire. David asked her where she got her spit roaster and she told him how many beaver pelts she had to trade with the French to obtain it. (6)

There was even a deer hanging in a tree nearby, that an Englishman had traded to her earlier in the day.

This beautiful lady was demonstrating the weaving of the thick mats that covered the wigwams. She explained to us that this was a process that women would have started in July and continued til it was too cold to make more.

She talked about the process, and about how the mats were used. The wigwam is covered in three layers of mats. Each winter, the outer layer of mat moves closer to the inside, so the most weather-beaten set of mats are always the inner-most layer. After that, the mats become sleeping mats and once they are too worn even for that, they make good fire starters.

There was a rope strung between trees that displayed the Indians beautiful fur pelts, used for trade.

And a lovely display of grains, vegetables and seeds with hand written labels.

Outside of the woods atop a grassy knoll was Fort Todd, where the British were encamped. David fell into conversation with the artillery officer right away, who was very kind and showed us many interesting things.

He invited us to sit with him in his camp, and Malachi made himself right at home. He is not a bit shy.

While we visited the British, the boys ran and played in the fields near the edge of the woods.

Judah found a feather. It was scraggly and dirty, but he thought it was beautiful.

There was a skirmish that broke out right in front of our eyes! Before we knew what was happening the French and the Indians and longhunters were shooting at the British and Scottish.

Our dear artillery officer silently got his mortar into action and contributed some frightening BOOMS to the scenario.

Here one of the handsomely kilted Scotsmen fires his pistol.

Sadly, one of the soldiers had to be killed by firing squad later, due to him carrying some suspicious information that, it seems, he was going to turn over to the enemy.

We wandered out to the general encampment area after that. Malachi took over my basket and demanded to carry it everywhere.

He came across this gentleman, who portrayed a voyager and described the history of this area of the Illinois river. He and Malachi became very fast friends.

Malachi came to know him as "the nice cookie man" because he passed round a bag of crunchy oatmeal cookies that the boys ate and loved.

Here is a couple we met towards the end of the day, who, it turns out, live just up the road from us! Talk about a small world!

The lady makes beautiful reproduction jewelry and David bought me this pretty pair of earrings as a surprise gift. I was delighted and shall wear these often, not just for reenactments!

And to sum it up, here are my kiddos and their quick-and-dirty 18th century outfits:

David - he wore his yellow twill 1860's short trousers. I sewed twill tape ties to the side to tighten up the fit around his knees, but I think that was unncessary. Since then, I have read that little boys could wear breeches that were loose at the hem, or drawn up with a drawstring. Oh well. Better informed for next time! He wore his linen 14th century shift and the one new item I made for him was his black wool overshirt/smock. It is square cut with a simple slit for the opening and is based on the smock descriptions in Everyday Dress or Rural America 1783-1800. His hat is a green wool felt hat we got for $1 at the thrift store and I pinned it up at the side with a patriotic rosette.

Judah - he wore the same as David, but his hat was the quilted linen hat I made for my 1860s soldiers box that I pinned up into a quickie tricorn style. He wore red wool knitted stockings that I had had made for him a few years ago for reenacting. I was lucky they still fit him! Just barely, but they fit. ;)

Malachi - I did not have ANY time to make Malachi anything new or else I would have made the 18th century childs dress in Costume in Detail for him. He wore his linen medieval shift and his regency drawstring gown and I shut my eyes and hoped for the best. No one seemed to mind his fashion was a little forward for the 1780's and he certainly enjoyed himself fully. I think a wide sash may have helped the look somewhat but I am relieved we at least all had something to wear when I had to throw all this together within a 5 day period! And I was glad he got to wear his regency gown again. It looks so adorable on him and I know by next year it will be too small for him.

And here is my handsome hubby. :) He wore his breeches, shirt and waistcoat from his regency ensemble since there really is not a great deal of difference between 1780's breeches/waistcoats/shirts and 1800's breeches/waistcoats/shirts. His tail coat would have been somewhat too fashion forward though, so we had to make him a new coat. I contemplated making him a quick wool frock coat but realized that I really would not have time for that to do it properly. So we decided on a fringed linen hunting shirt. These were worn by many of the men at the event so David did not feel out of place. I only got one row of fringe on the coat instead of the 2 rows I wanted to do, but I simply ran out of time. We sewed up his straw hat into a tricorn style and he was all set. I love this color brown on him. I think he is so cute. ;)

We really can't wait until next year and plan on making this event a regular one for us. We had to skip out on a Civil War event we usually do to go to this one, but we all agreed, it was worth it! :D



  1. What a fun event! That's so neat you were able to participate in it! Love your dress!

  2. Wow, you really made yourself and yours look good with so little time! I don't think I commented on your dress, but I love it! So very becoming - I just *must* make myself an 18th century outfit next year.

    Seems to have been a fun event - there are just too many interesting periods, how is one supposed to be able to stick to only one??

  3. Dear Sarah,

    Fun, fun, fun! What surroundings, and I am glad you met such kind people. Such happy pictures, and please tell David that his fringed linen shirt suits him very well, as your ensemble does. You all fit the era!

    Very best,


  4. Looks like you had a lovely time! You all look great :D

  5. My goodness, what an amazing job you did in 5 days! Your family looks way above average for civilians at most 18thC events. The Indian village sounds like it was fascinating.

  6. You look beautiful, all of you! That looks like an interesting event.

  7. Sarah, I know!! It is truly impossible to pick just one era as a "favorite" - so many of them are so interesting. I'm so lucky my husband is willing to go along with my whims. It's fun to be married to someone who likes to play dress up and loves history too. :)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!