Save the Date for the Port Oneida Fair

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Date: April 28, 2017

Mark your calendar for the 2017 Port Oneida Fair at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) where history comes alive at six historic sites. The 2017 dates are Friday and Saturday, August 11-12, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This two-day event includes rural history demonstrations, activities, and special events each day. The event will end Saturday night with solar viewing and an astronomy party.

Visitors may take a shuttle, drive, hike, or bike to six unique historic sites where a variety of activities take place. Over 80 demonstrators will be at the Thoreson, Olsen, Burfiend, Dechow, and Kelderhouse farms as well as the schoolhouse. Timber framers, quilters, blacksmiths, and basket weavers will be demonstrating their crafts, and park rangers, volunteers, and Port Oneida residents will share their stories. If you are interested in becoming a demonstrator at the 2017 fair, please contact Matt Mohrman at for more information. 

Food will be available for purchase or visitors may pack a picnic lunch. 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. 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. On Saturday, August 12, astronomy activities will take place at the Thorson farm. Finish off your afternoon with a solar viewing (4:00p.m.-6:00p.m.) and then come back after dinner for a Star Party treat (9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.). Observe the beautiful summer night sky constellations, Saturn, and possibly a few bright Perseid meteors. The Perseid meteor shower is one of the very best showers to observe and this evening will see the peak.

Park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be on-hand to share telescopes and knowledge. Visitors will learn about astronomy as it was in the 1900s. A flashlight is recommended for the evening astronomy event. 

The Port Oneida Fair is presented by the National Lakeshore in partnership with the non-profit organization Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. The fair promotes the preservation of rural traditional skills, crafts, landscapes and communities of the Upper Great Lakes Region through education and artistic expression.

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 farmhouses, barns, and a variety of specialized outbuildings, the historic district contains fields, orchards, fence rows, roads, forests, and a historic cemetery. Port Oneida is the largest publicly owned and intact historic agricultural district in the United States.  

Each August, amid the pastoral setting of meadows, maples, barns, farmhouse, 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. Visitors are invited to step back in time to experience life as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  

There is no cost for the event; however, you must have a park entrance pass or an annual pass displayed in your vehicle. Park passes can be purchased at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, which is open daily. For questions, please call 231-326-4700, extension 5010.

Last updated: April 28, 2017

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Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


(231) 326-4700

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