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French and Indian War encampment kicks off Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival

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OGDENSBURG — Festival-goers traveled through history during Founders Day weekend, a French and Indian War encampment at Lighthouse Point, to kick off the Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival.

For the 12th year, re-enactors and Fort La Presentation Association members set up camps near the site of the French fort that was active during the war, which was fought from 1754 to 1763.

Tents, antique guns and tools were lined up in five camps Saturday as costumed re-enactors went about everyday life at the fort in the 18th century.

“It really brings history alive,” said Timothy W. Cryderman, chairman of Founders Day. “We teach detailed things that you don’t find in an average history book.”

“This fort was very active during the French and Indian War and in following years, it was a base of operations in the American Revolution, as well as in 1812,” Mr. Cryderman said. “This is what you would have seen here in the 1750s.”

The Fort La Presentation Association has been raising money to build a replica of the original Fort La Presentation at Lighthouse Point. Mr. Cryderman said Founders Day helps the cause.

Michael P. Whittaker, public relations manager for the association, has been re-enacting for 29 years.

“There have been efforts to build the fort for more than 50 years,” Mr. Whittaker said, “but people don’t realize the complexity of the project.”

He said the association needs about $5 million to start the building process.

“The fort cannot be built by the 18 or 20 people on the board,” Mr. Whittaker said. “It requires community involvement, and we hope to get more.”

The five camps in the re-enactment represent the French, British, Natives, Navy and Sutlers.

Daniel J. Roy, Quebec, crosses the border each year to portray the French commander and to promote his French heritage.

“Re-enactment is a culture where you literally close the door to the 21st century and enter the 18th-century style,” he said. “There was a French outpost here. It’s sacred ground for us.”

Sharon A. Bell, Plattsburgh, was in costume Saturday in the Navy camp. She said she’s been involved with re-enactments since 1985.

“It relates history to people, rather than dry facts in a book,” she said.

Founders Day events continue today.


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