Martha Washington (Jane Ritchey) and George Washington (Vern Frykholm Jr.) meet with a young visitor at the Northwest Colonial Festival in 2019. The pair return this year from Thursday through Sunday for daily visits with guests. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Martha Washington (Jane Ritchey) and George Washington (Vern Frykholm Jr.) meet with a young visitor at the Northwest Colonial Festival in 2019. The pair return this year from Thursday through Sunday for daily visits with guests. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Colonial Fest returns to George Washington Inn

Event shares takes of life during the Revolutionary War

AGNEW — Living history will march on at the George Washington Inn this weekend with the Northwest Colonial Festival that begins today.

More than 100 reenactors/living historians will share elements of the day-to-day life of everyday people to soldiers during the American Revolutionary War, when colonists sought freedom from the British Empire at the George Washington Inn, 939 Finn Hall Road.

“If there’s one thing to express (it is), please engage with the participants,” said Andy House-Higgins of Olympia, one of the participating reenactors/historians.

“It’s not a Broadway show. Ask questions. We want to bring history to life. That’s my ultimate goal and it’s a lot of fun.”

Entry is free for visitors from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. today through Sunday, with activities throughout the weekend.

Dan Abbott, president of the event sponsor George Washington Society, said the village will have a lot happening.

“It’s more than an encampment,” he said. “Last year it was a shadow of itself because of COVID.”

The event features scavenger hunts, marching with the fife-and-drum corps, skirmishes between the Sons of Liberty and British regulars, period-accurate weaving, spinning and knitting, talks with living historians, such as George and Martha Washington (Vern Frykholm Jr. and Jane Ritchey), and much more.

Dr. Gove Allen of Utah returns with his replica of Isaiah Thomas’ first printing press after first attending in 2017. Abbott said Allen visited George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon earlier this summer.

House-Higgins said there will be test firings of a cannon daily along with military marching drills and plenty of hands-on activities, such as toy muskets that children can hold.

Abbott said the property housing the bridge for The Battle for Concord Bridge was sold and the bridge has been deconstructed, but skirmishes will continue for the festival.

Pam Gassman, coordinator of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, said she anticipates about 25 people coming from both groups offering educational talks and colonial artifacts.

She’s attended the festival since its inception seven years ago and offers an 18th century clothing and artwork tent along with a fiber arts tent showing the Daughters of Liberty’s skills on a loom and spinning wheel.

“I’m a collector of lost arts,” Gassman said. “Once things get lost, they are hard to find. These are dying arts and I’m trying to pass it on.”

For children, some of the activities include a loom to teach them how to weave, an area to make silk pin cushions, writing with quill pins, horseshoe activities and more.

“There’s so much to learn — it’s hands-on, family friendly and the weather will be perfect,” Gassman said.

House-Higgins, a Northwest Colonial Festival participant for six years, said the festival offers an opportunity to engage the public in their history.

“From my perspective, it’s getting away from the overarching historical perspective and it brings it to life from an individual soldier or regular person with a more personal perspective,” he said.

Abbott said he and his wife Janet continue to host the event because they see it as an “opportunity to educate the next generation on founding principles and the heritage we enjoy as Americans.”

For the event, masks are recommended inside buildings and if closer than 6 feet to other people, organizers said on the festival’s Facebook page.

For more information, visit facebook.com/colonialfestival and colonialfestival.com.

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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 mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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