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. Friday and Saturday, August 11–12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Port Oneida becomes a lively fun-filled location once again. 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 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. Food will be available for purchase or visitors may pack a picnic lunch.
On Saturday, August 12, astronomy activities will take place at the Thoreson farm. Finish off your afternoon with a solar viewing (4–6 p.m.) and then come back after dinner for a Star Party treat (9–11 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, 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. 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.
—Press release provided by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore