Reliving History

Re-enactment at Fort Ontario, Oswego
Re-enactment at Fort Ontario, Oswego

Re-enactment programs show rich history of the region

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

While we can’t go back in time, historic programs and exhibits can help us feel more connected with the past. Several historic sites in New York offer history events. Historic interpreters usually dress in period costuming and may engage with visitors from a 21st-century perspective to help educate them about life in the past. Historic re-enactors, however, stay “in character” of either a specific or a general historic person from their era while visitors are present. They tend to be more meticulous about details of their costuming, behavior and conversation.

Here are some of the re-enactment programs in the region:

Fort Ontario (1 E. 4th St., Oswego, 315-343-4711, hosts a French & Indian War—18th Century Living History Event (June 17), among others this summer and fall. Check the website for details.

Fort Niagara (Youngstown, 716-745-7611, offers a few events this season, including Rebels and Redcoats, an American Revolution event (Jun. 3-4, free with paid admission), French and Indian War Encampment (Jul. 1-3, $13), Soldiers of the Revolution (Aug. 5-6, free with paid admission), which depicts life on the New York frontier during the American Revolution, and War of 1812 Encampment (Sept. 2-3, free with paid admission. Admission is $12 adults; $8 children 6-12; Free 5 and under.

Genesee Country Village & Museum (1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford, 585-294-8218,

It presents several history events throughout the summer, including War of 1812/Jane Austen (June 24-25) and Civil War (July 15-16). Genesee is the largest living history museum in the state, so you’re sure to find plenty of interesting things to see and do as you stroll among dozens of authentic and replica buildings of the 1800s. Tickets start at $14 for children.

Fort Ticonderoga (100 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, 518-585-2821,

It hosts several history events all summer, including the 1777 Brown’s Raid Battle against the British at Fort Ticonderoga and Montcalm’s Cross: The 1758 Battle of Carillon. The fort’s numerous exhibits and displays allow visitors to make a day of it as they explore the history interpreters going about daily life as if in the 18th century. Tickets start at $9 for children. Special weekends all summer long include Scots Day (June 17), Fife and Drum Corps Muster (July 29), and Heritage, Harvest, & Horse Festival (Sept. 30).

Cape Vincent’s 4th Annual Historical Weekend (, 315-654-2481) June 24-25 takes place throughout Cape Vincent and includes an encampment, re-enactment, historical walking tours, crafts, and period watercraft.

Before You Go

Make your visit to a historic event more enjoyable.

• Review the site’s website and call in advance to confirm ticket prices and times the site is open. Most don’t stay open late, so plan to arrive early in the day.

• The website usually can answer questions about what’s permitted, such as if you may bring in food to the facility.

• Plan to do a lot of walking. Most sites are quite large and may have varied terrain. Baby backpacks may be easier to manage than strollers. Ask about wheelchair accessibility for historic buildings.

• Before your visit, read up on the era with your children so they know what to expect and can plan to ask some questions.

• Consider dressing in period costume.