Popular Campfires & Candlelight Event Returns on September 12

The reconstructed Fur Store at twilight, with candle lanterns outside and people walking around nearby.
Visitors enjoy the Campfires and Candlelight event in 2014.

NPS Photo by Troy Wayrynen


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Date: September 1, 2015
Contact: Robert Gutierrez, Park Ranger, 360-816-6247
Contact: Mike Twist, Park Ranger, 360-816-6246
Contact: Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, 360-816-6231

VANCOUVER, WA –On September 12, the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will host the free Campfires and Candlelight signature community event for the 32nd consecutive year.

This interactive, living history event, first staged in 1983, features costumed staff and more than 150 volunteers in encampments and re-enactments on the grounds and inside the buildings of the reconstructed Hudson's Bay Company fort at the national historic site--one of just 408 units of the National Park System.

Due to a current City of Vancouver ban on all outdoor burning, including recreational fires, staff are planning that campfires will not be present at this year's event. However, even if the ban remains in place, the historic ambiance will still be maintained in areas not affected by the ban, including the structures in the reconstructed fort.

"If weather and fire danger conditions improve, and the City of Vancouver Fire Marshall's Office lifts the community fire ban, we're staged to quickly and safely reintroduce campfires to this event," said Greg Shine, the park's chief ranger and historian. 

The popular annual event features two distinct parts. It begins by leading visitors back through the site's past along the Timeline of History, where encampments and demonstrations shadow the accessible pathway and highlight key people and events from the site's history.

Among numerous opportunities, visitors can visit a WWII-era cavalry unit, smell the spruce of the World War I-era Spruce Production Division camp, meet Civil War infantry and cavalry units, enjoy period music from the Vancouver Community Band, cover ears at the boom of an Army mountain howitzer, throw trade axes in the Fort Vancouver Village camp, and inspect uniforms and camp equipment from soldiers of many eras of the national park's history.

The Timeline of History ends at the gate to the reconstructed stockade, where visitors can step back in time to September 13, 1846---a night the usually-quiet fort buzzed with activity as the Hudson's Bay Company organized a relief effort for the wreck of the American naval vessel USS Shark at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Inside the reconstructed fort, visitors can observe and interact with reenactors in numerous fort buildings, including the Blacksmith Shop, Bake House, Chief Factor's House, Counting House, Carpenters Shop, Kitchen, and Dispensary.

"The ambiance and sense of specialness fostered by the Campfires and Candlelight event will still be in place, with or without a fire ban," said Tracy Fortmann, park superintendent. "It's safety first at Fort Vancouver and all other national parks. As we approach the National Park Service centennial, we're redoubling our commitment to the protection of the resources that the American people have entrusted to our care." 

Campfires and Candlelight is Fort Vancouver's largest costumed re-enactment, and is only possible through the help of more than 150 costumed interpreters from the park's volunteer team, the park's youth volunteer team, and multiple community partners.

What: 32nd Annual "Campfires &Candlelight" Special Event

Who: Presented by the employees and volunteers of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

When: 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday, September 12, 2015. The Timeline of History begins at 4:00 pm and the reconstructed fort opens at 5:00 pm.

Where: The grounds surrounding and including the reconstructed stockade at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 East Fifth Street, Vancouver, Washington 98661

How Much: Free!

Special Notes 
To facilitate event setup, the hours of operation for the reconstructed stockade will be 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Saturday, September 12. The Timeline of History opens at 4:00 pm.

Pearson Air Museum, temporarily housing the national park's Visitor Center function, will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 12.

Carpooling is encouraged as parking is limited. Event parking can be found:
  • at the gravel lot immediately north of the fort's garden, near 1001 E. Fifth Street
  • at the Visitor Center parking lot located at 1501 East Evergreen Blvd.
  • and available public parking areas within the Historic Reserve
Accessible parking is available at the gravel lot immediately north of the fort's garden, near 1001 E. Fifth Street.

Last updated: September 1, 2015

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Mailing Address:

612 E Reserve St
Vancouver , WA 98661


(360) 816-6230

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