WEST LAFAYETTE — The 49th annual Feast of the Hunters’ Moon historical re-enactment sets up camp at Historic Fort Ouiatenon this weekend. This two-day event is a chance to step back in time and get a glimpse of what life was like in Indiana more than 200 years ago.
1) This is our history
Unlike Renaissance fairs and Civil War re-enactments, The Feast of the Hunters’ Moon is Indiana history hearkening back to a time — more than 50 years before Indiana statehood in 1816 — when Indiana was a mishmash of Native Americans, Frenchmen, British, Scottish, Irish and Germans. All cultures that existed in west central Indiana in 1750 are represented at this two-day event.
2) Location, location, location
The Feast of the Hunters’ Moon is held on the grounds of historic Fort Ouiatenon, 3129 S. River Road, West Lafayette, along the banks of the Wabash River. The presence of the replica of old fort’s block house, the rural Indiana countryside and the proximity of the river create an ideal location for an Indian encampment, vendor booths/trading posts, a landing for French traders and voyageurs and open-air fire pits for food cooked in the great outdoors. It’s not hard to close your eyes and imagine walking into the past.
3) Keeping it real
Those who participate in the historical re-enactment of the Feast of the Hunters’ Moon by dressing the part or camping out are serious about it. A statement about standards directed at participants from the festival’s website states: “Participants, merchandise, entertainment and food should be appropriate to our time period and place, to the best of our knowledge and ability.” Re-enactors take this to heart. Fur traders and mountain men are covered in the skins of their trade; Native Americans adorn themselves in beaded moccasins and feathers; military men sweat it out in wool uniforms authentic down to the insignia on their hats; and ladies of 1790s aristocracy are squeezed into their gowns with the help of a corset under the many layers of petticoats.
4) Lots to learn
Attendees wandering the grounds can take in demonstrations in blacksmithing, metalwork, quilting, weaving and woodworking. Watch as yarn is created on an authentic spinning wheel just like great-great-grandma used to make, and observe a horse being shod. Take in a variety of entertainment from Native American dance to a Hasty Pudding theatrical production to a French fashion show. Go down to the river and cheer on the voyageurs racing canoes. Keep rhythm while any number of fife and drum corps from the 1700s maneuver through drills on the parade grounds.
5) Big crowds
Attendance for the 2016 festival is expected to top 50,000, but 30 acres of space gives the crowds a lot of room to spread out. The grounds at Fort Ouiatenon are home to four stages, la grande arena, an artillery park, the boat ramp, the block house, a cricket field, a tomahawk range, the voyageur camp, the Wea Indian encampment and the Ridge arena. Make sure you wear your walking shoes and enjoy a day out in the 18th century.
The Feast of the Hunters’ Moon
Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3129 S. River Road, West Lafayette
One day adult passes are $13; children are $7; a family pass for two adults and up to four children is $35.
For more information and a complete list of events for the two-day feast, visit tcha.mus.in.us.