History comes alive at six historic sites during the annual Port Oneida Fair at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County on Friday and Saturday, August 8–9, 2014, from 10 am to 4 pm. In addition to the many popular demonstrations, animals and exhibits, the Northern Michigan festival will feature a chicken dinner on Friday, and end with solar viewing and an astronomy party on Saturday night. This two-day special event is free. Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun.

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The Port Oneida Fair promotes 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. 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. Port Oneida is the largest intact historic agricultural district in the United States.

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 to experience life as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s. People can take the shuttle, drive, hike or bike to six unique historic sites where a variety of activities take place. Over 80 demonstrators will be at Thoreson, Olsen, Burfiend, Dechow, and Kelderhouse farms as well as the schoolhouse. Timber framers, quilters and basket weavers will be demonstrating their crafts. Potters and blacksmiths will be hard at work. Oxen will be cutting hay in the fields. Interpreting the history of the Port Oneida community and its settlers will also be an important aspect of the fair. Park Rangers, volunteers, and families of Port Oneida residents will share 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. 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.

You can spend a day at the Port Oneida Fair and then sit down for an old-fashioned chicken dinner at the Olsen farm! On Friday, August 8th, starting at 4:30 pm, Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear will present the Port Oneida BBQ Picnic for only $15. Dinner is served from 4:30 to 6:30 pm with music until 8. Tickets need to be purchased in advance. Proceeds benefit the Port Oneida Fair. Please contact Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear for ticket information at PHSB.org.

On Saturday, August 9th, a solar viewing event will be offered from 4 to 6 pm and a Star Party from 9 to 11 pm 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 sun, then the full moon, Mars, Saturn, and the Perseid meteor shower. Learn about astronomy as it was in the 1900s. Remember to bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car.

The Port Oneida Fair is hosted by the National Lakeshore and co-sponsored by Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. This year’s poster features the work of David Westerfield. “Old Apple Trees, Kelderhouse Farm” is a limited edition print and is available at Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (Olsen farm) currently and will be available at the fair for $15.

For more information and to make reservations to bring a group, call the National Park Service at 231.326.4700 or by visiting NPS.gov/SLBE.

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