If not for the period-specific clothing, it would have been hard to tell the children re-enacting mid-19th century games from the modern kids joining them. Some of those games, like tug-of-war, jump rope and potato sack races are rather timeless, whereas some games, like hoop rolling, may seem rather dated.
It was all a sign that people were out at the Fort Scott National Historic Site on Saturday, and in truth, the people attended the fort throughout the extended Fourth of July weekend.
“We had a really good turnout for the artillery. I believe we had 58 people come out for the firing at sunset,” said Galen Ewing, Fort Scott National Historic Site park ranger. “That was one of the larger events we’ve had for the Fourth of July. Overall, just on that day, we had close to 100 people. With all the other activities, and the weather perfect, and a lot of people doing family things, that’s pretty good. But the 6th, we’ve had pretty good turnout today, too.”
Some of the events planned at the fort were Civil War themed, as the nation commemorated 150 years since the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg earlier in the week. As part of the activities and events around the fort this weekend, several had a Civil War theme, including a monologue on “Bleeding Kansas,” a 30-gun salute and a reading of Abraham Lincoln’s Independence Day address, which took place on July 7, 1863.
“He delayed his speech until the Seventh of July. He didn’t feel it was appropriate and proper to speak on the Fourth with the goings on and activities at Gettysburg and Vicksburg,” Ewing said. “By July 7, the joyous news that Vicksburg had surrendered and the Gettysburg victory led his to be elated, and he gave a wonderful speech. He referenced that all mena re created equal, well before the Gettysburg Address. You can imagine Lincoln jumping for joy after hearing the news from Gettysburg and Vicksburg.”
In addition to the Civil War-themed activities, there were some of the more traditional events, like prairie tours, artillery demonstrations and more. Rondi Anderson and her three girls, Libby, Jubi and Tori, were all part of the re-enactments and period-specific portrayals.
“I think these events draw a lot of different people,” Anderson said. “Soldiers come here, history buffs come here, and tourists. I think, too, there are a lot of foreigners that visit. Maybe some are college students on break, but three times today I’ve had my photo taken with someone who doesn’t speak English, but they’re very happy to see you. It’s nice to have a crowd.”