Apparently, this is one of those things everyone except me knew about. I had just learned of Fort Stanton's annual event last year, and I knew my 11-year-old history buff would love it. Turns out every tenth person we saw was from our town, and had been coming for years!
Fort Stanton was originally built as part of the war with the Apaches, so we had a few conversations before we went about how some people think different = bad = okay to take your stuff. Sheridan asked if that was why Christopher and Logan are always wrestling, because their ancestors fought. Um, sure, honey, that's why.
Since then the fort has also been used in the Civil War, as a camp for German citizens during WWII (not POWs - these were actually the staff of a luxury liner who nobody knew what to do with!), as a TB hospital, and as a rehab center. It was only turned over as a state monument twenty years ago, and it is really impressive what they have done with the place so far!
There were reenactors galore, many of who camped out overnight in old military tents on the grounds.
|Why is only ONE person blurry? Maybe he was a ghost?|
The military barracks is set up beautifully, with both recreated and authentic materials.
|Soaking it in.|
|I love that the kids are getting old enough (and interested enough) to wander and read descriptions themselves.|
One of Mike's old shooting partners, Lanny Maddox, was playing Native American flute in the chapel. It didn't seem appropriate to take pictures inside, but the music echoing off the stone walls was beautiful. We did snap a picture outside.
There were dozens and dozens of things to check out up close.
|Christopher getting a mini lesson on musketry.|
|Trying out some old ink pens|
Several shows in the stage area - Here we have Dr. Bob's Medicine Show, followed later by a group from the Flying J Ranch.
In fact, there was so much going on, it was hard to get to everything we wanted to see!
|Even the re-enactors were trying to get it all in.|
Drills going on throughout the day.
I think this was Shane's favorite: kids could help hand grind coffee beans with this highly entertaining gentleman. Shane had to sniff every. single. batch.
The same gentleman showed us a homemade turkey call, just like his father taught him to make.
It sounded exactly like the hens we get around here!
I could have watched his hands for hours.
There were pottery, spinning, weaving, black smithing, and lace making demonstrations, with people happy to provide all sorts of details and instructions. The spinners gave us some ideas for the small bit of wool Logan has been hoarding from an earlier sheep sheering demonstration.
Four different cannons, some local, this one from the panhandle of Texas. They fired them off separately, then all together. Afterward kids (and adults) got to explore closer, handling the cannon balls and equipment and seeing up close how they worked and what everything was called.
And there were periodic bunnies. I am assuming they live at the fort.
This is one of the few events to which you can still take your dog, by the way, and we got to scratch lots of ears and receive kisses in return.
I think the kids had fun.
I started snapping pictures of these three by a little sample garden,
and some guy with a camera popped in front of me and started snapping away. I ASSUME he was a reporter or something...but he was especially fascinated with Shane. "His eyes just SHINE!" Oh, boy...
Oh, a horse too! There is a stables area, but we never made it to that. Fortunately, this lovely came out to meet with people (and eat all the grass on the parade ground).
We were going to eat lunch there, but the lines were long (and the prices were high), so we settled on some kettle corn
while waiting for the Mescalero Dancers.
Yes, I asked for permission to photograph first.
Both drummers and dancers are from the Chee family.
Christopher refused to join the circle dance, but Sheridan and Logan were eager.
Shane preferred to be a Daddy's boy.
We had a birthday party to go to, so we headed out after that. Fortunately, the kids were tired and slept all the way home.
Definitely one we will be going to again next year! Worth the day trip for a tour as well, and from what I hear they offer excellent field trips for students of all ages. If you are in the area at all, check it out!