Port Oneida Fair 2011

Port Oneida Fair oxen
Park visitors get up close and personal with oxen during the Port Oneida Fair.

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News Release Date: July 29, 2011

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Superintendent Dusty Shultz is pleased to announce that the 10th Annual Port Oneida Rural Arts and Culture Fair will be held August 12 and 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition to the many popular demonstrations, animals and exhibits, the fair will be a zero-waste event, will feature a chicken dinner on Friday, and will end with an astronomy party on Saturday night to celebrate the milestone 10th year.

Each August, amid the pastoral setting of meadows, maples, barns, farmhouses and corncribs, the Port Oneida Rural Historic District awakens from its peaceful slumber and comes alive with activity true to the period when it was a community of robust farms. Once again, visitors are invited to step back in time at the two-day Port Oneida Fair on Friday and Saturday to experience life as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Visitors can take the shuttle, drive, hike, or bike to the six unique historic sites where a variety of activities take place. One can almost imagine the life of these farm families as the clip-clop of horse and wagon is heard toting visitors down Port Oneida Road on a scenic drive-by of the community's historic homes, schoolhouse, barns and outbuildings. Timber framers, candle makers and basket weavers will be demonstrating their crafts. Potters and blacksmiths will be hard at work. And oxen will be cutting hay in the fields.

Additionally, children can try their hand at the crosscut saw and other farm tools. Do not miss the displays of wind-up musical instruments, flour sack dresses, and quilts, too. Learn about knitting, soap-making, butter-churning, spinning, bee keeping and honey production. Satisfy your curiosity and walk through many of the historic farmhouses and barns that will be open for tours.  

Interpreting the history of the Port Oneida Community and its settlers is an important aspect of the fair. Who were the families that lived on these farms? How did they live? What did they do? Park rangers and families of Port Oneida residents will share these stories at various farm sites. Food will be available for purchase or you may pack a picnic lunch to eat on the trail or in a farm meadow.  

By partnering with Bay Area Recycling for Charities, the National Lakeshore will be going "green" and composting or recycling all materials possible throughout the fair. The goal is to have a 95% recycle and compost rate. Special bins will be placed at each site. In order to reduce what is being put into a landfill, compostable service ware will be used. These items (cups, plates, and utensils) are made from plant based materials and will break down in a compost pile within weeks, as opposed to plastics and paper material that would take generations to decompose in a landfill.

Also new this year, on Friday, August 12, starting at 5:00 p.m., Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear will present the Port Oneida Picnic; a chicken dinner for only $12. Tickets need to be purchased in advance. There will be music and activities to accompany dinner at the Olsen Farm. Please contact Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear for ticket information at www.phsb.org.

To close out the two-day fair, there will be a Star Party on Saturday, August 13, starting at 9:30 p.m. at the Thoreson Farm. Join park rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) to experience a form of recreation that has been enjoyed by many generations and continues today. GTAS members share their telescopes and knowledge while viewing the sunset, Saturn, and the full moon. Learn about astronomy as it was in the 1900s. Remember to bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car.  

It is the mission of the Port Oneida Rural Arts and Culture Fair to promote the preservation of rural traditional skills, crafts, landscapes, and communities of the Upper Great Lakes Region through education, artistic expression and the development of a coalition of community organizations. Port Oneida is the largest intact historic agricultural district in the United States that is fully protected within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It is historically significant because it conveys the land use practices, architecture, and evolution of agricultural technology common to subsistent farms of the upper Great Lakes region. The Port Oneida Rural Historic District contains 19 historic farms (four privately owned), more than 300 buildings, and over 3,000 acres of land. In addition to the farmhouses, barns, and wonderful variety of specialized outbuildings, the historic district contains the fields, orchards, fence rows, roads, cemetery, forest and other elements that make up the historic landscape.

All events are free after visitors purchase and display the National Lakeshore pass on their vehicles. For more information and a schedule of events, please visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/slbe or call the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore visitor center at 231-326-5134. Also, check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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