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Fort Massac State Park encampment

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[OCT. 9, 2004]  METROPOLIS -- One of southern Illinois' most popular fall festivals -- the annual Fort Massac Encampment at Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis -- is scheduled for Oct. 16-17. The Fort Massac Encampment, hosted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with sponsorship support provided by the city of Metropolis, is expected to attract 100,000 visitors.

The encampment is a step back in time for history buffs, families and other visitors. It features military re-encampment regiments, period craft demonstrations and other activities recalling life in Illinois during the 18th and 19th centuries. Activities are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16-17.

"The encampment lets visitors experience history in a way they can't by reading about it," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold. "From military re-enactments to cooking over the historic bake stove, it's a chance to experience the sights, smells and sounds one might have found when Fort Massac was a functioning outpost."

Visitors also have a chance to see how last year's reconstruction project at Historic Fort Massac unfolded. The structure underwent restoration to more accurately reflect its original construction by the French military. A video on the reconstruction project will be shown at the visitor center during the encampment. Proceeds from the $2.50 donation to see the video will benefit WSIU Public Television and the Friends of Fort Massac.

Fort Massac functioned as a remote military outpost on the Ohio River between 1757 and 1814. It was a trading center for the French, British, colonial settlers and Native Americans.

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A posting of the colors ceremony opens the festival each day at 10 a.m. Mock military battles and tactical demonstrations are staged on the Fort Massac grounds at 3 p.m. Each day closes with a military retreat ceremony at 5 p.m. More than 500 participants in costumes from the era will perform the roles of traders, explorers and soldiers.

The entertainment authentically reflects the time when the fort was in operation. It includes performances by the fife and drum corps, musicians performing with dulcimers and other period instruments, as well as puppet shows, games and storytellers in the festival's children's area. Period craft makers demonstrate skills including blacksmithing, candle making, and rug and blanket weaving.

Admission to the encampment festival is free. Parking is provided at the Old Fairgrounds adjacent to the park. Tram service will be provided and is accessible to visitors with disabilities. Fort Massac State Park is closed to public vehicular traffic during the encampment weekend.

For more information about the encampment and Fort Massac State Park, contact the site office, 1308 E. Fifth St., Metropolis, IL 62960; phone (618) 524-4712.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]


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