Colonial Market Fair 2016 was truly the best ever—more revenue, more volunteers, more visitors, an expanded site, more re-enactors, great weather, more publicity, efficient parking--all the result of a genuine team effort, considerable hard work, some sleepless nights, and a little luck!
For CMF 2016, it was a year of firsts, too: first under the leadership of the Benjamin Banneker Foundation, first with a grant (thank you Patapsco Heritage Greenway!), first with a profit, first making full use of the cleared, expanded grove, first with a display at the I-95 North Welcome Center, first with banners on both Frederick Roads, first with Native American dancers, first with goats and sheep, first with local children participating as colonial re-enactors.
This year, the music tent was located in an area of the Nature Play Space recently cleared as an Eagle Scout project. Families with young children were drawn to the Nature Play Space, using it heavily as a place for informal, unstructured play and relaxation. The adjacent, freshly cleared grove was equally busy with craftsmen and re-enactors in 5 tents, along with farm animals in and around the “stockade” on Sunday. These expanded areas brought an exciting new dimension to CMF and the use of the park.
As a community event, CMF is seldom profitable for the craftsmen, making recruitment difficult. However, they enjoy this opportunity to demonstrate their skills and showcase their wares as they give the community a glimpse colonial life outside of Williamsburg. Then there is the hope that these interactions will capture the imagination of the occasional child who will be inspired to learn more about Banneker and 18th century life, and thus, be motivated to carry on the tradition. Consequently, it was exciting to see so many children in colonial dress: the 4-H members tending their animals, the junior demonstrators/assistants, the young visitors who came in costume or asked to borrow ours. So perhaps, the "daughters" in the families who came on Saturday, and returned to visit the lace makers on Sunday, will take up the fine art of making bobbin lace one day.
Community involvement in the event was not limited to visitors but has grown to include the re-enactors and volunteers: Molly Bannaky, the spinner, the woodwright, the Native American craft demonstrators, and many volunteers at the children’s tent, gardens, cabins, trails, parking and museum were local residents from Catonsville, Oella, Arbutus and Ellicott City. Community food vendors including BricknFire Pizza, GetFoodGo, and Picnic Pops also attended to help feed an estimated 1,600 visitors who enjoyed the event. Sunday attendance has increased noticeably with the 750 visitors almost matching the 850 of Saturday. For the first time, there were at least 100 people still on the grounds 15 minutes before closing on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, 193 visitors signed the guest book with an additional 208 signing on Sunday.
Thank you to all of the organizers, volunteers, re-enactors, musicians, and vendors who made this event a success! We look forward to seeing you next year. Check out photos from this year's fair on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/benjaminbannekerfoundation.
If you have attended the Colonial Market Fair and have suggestions for re-enactors we can include in next year's event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or message the Benjamin Banneker Foundation, Inc. on Facebook.