By Matthew Nash
Olympic Peninsula News Group
AGNEW — Re-enactments of the American Revolutionary War are scheduled today, Saturday and Sunday at the George Washington Inn.
The third Northwest Colonial Festival began Thursday and runs through Sunday at the inn at 939 Finn Hall Road near Agnew. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for visitors 13 and older, while children 12 and younger get in free at the event. A family pass is $30 at the gate.
Event Director Dan Wilbanks said organizers through the George Washington Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, aim to increase activities, presentations and music while remaining centered around interpreting the events of April 19, 1775. Daily actors recreate the “Skirmish on Lexington Green” at 10:30 a.m. and the “Battle for Concord Bridge” at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s tripled in size,” Wilbanks said of the festival. “For being our third year and considering we started from scratch, it’s driven by a passion to share our history.”
Everyone on-site is a volunteer, he said, and all ticket sales go into building the next year’s event.
Last year’s ticket sales helped pay for a 75-foot shade marquee next to the battlefield, he said.
This year, Wilbanks anticipates more than 70 re-enactors coming from across the Western United States compared to about 50 last year along with well-known leaders John Adams, Ben Franklin and George Washington.
The festival features the Pacific Northwest’s largest contingent of British Redcoats and Colonial Militia, he said.
“[The festival] is unique in several ways because it provides this topic in the Western U.S. where there are few venues for this type,” Wilbanks said.
“The public seems to have a renewed interest in history and there is always a brisk discussion of it. Sometimes the information is misinformation, but we tell about the good and the bad that helped form America as we know her today.”
Along with the battles, there will be dozens of classes, demonstrations and performances throughout the festival.
On the “Village Green” in front of the inn, volunteers will perform time-period accurate dances and music and 18th-century sword fights.
The Seattle area-based Columbia Fife &Drum Corps and the Southern California Colonial music group Deadmans’ Waistcoat perform a few times each day.
Organizers also have partnered with Washington State University to bring in Professors Steve Lyons and Richard Scheuerman to speak today about efforts to return heritage grains dating back to 1770 to prominence in the United States, including at the inn.
Wilbanks said the effort to bring back the grains has inspired a number of re-enactors who will present on heritage baking using more obscure grains in the colonist village.
Along with Lyons and Scheuerman, military and Revolutionary War historian Jeff Dacus will speak today and Saturday.
History education and patriotic displays will be provided by the Washington State Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, and Sons of the American Revolution, or SAR.
Karla Morgan with the DAR said she’s creating an area for children to experience life in the 1770s with time-appropriate books, games and toys, and outfits to try on so parents can take photos.
“It gives them a vision of what it was like for a child in the colonial times,” she said.
Overall, Morgan said, the festival gives a good idea “of what our founding fathers and mothers sought for a vision and goals.”
“If we can have a better understanding of that, a lot of our social problems would be less frightening,” Morgan said. “Dialogue is good. Conversation is good. The sharing of ideas is good.”
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at email@example.com.