History Fair to feature live cannons
By Jim Poole
The History Fair at the Old Stone Fort will be heavy on percussion this year.
And loud, too.
More than a half-dozen cannons will join the Schoharie Valley Concert Band to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Schoharie County Historical Society next weekend, October 11 and 12.
The artillery and the band will team up--along with church and school bells--for a rendition of the "1812 Overture" on the grounds of the fort in Schoharie.
"People have used real cannons for the '1812 Overture,' but nobody's used cannons from three centuries," said Carle Kopecky, director of the Old Stone Fort.
"When we decided to do it, we said, 'Let's invite everyone we know with a cannon.' "
The History Fair alternates with Stone Fort Days every other October. This year, organizers wanted something different to celebrate the Historical Society's 125th birthday.
Mr. Kopecky noted that the Stone Fort specializes in military re-enactments and historic music.
"So this year we're combining the two. This is what we do best," Mr. Kopecky said.
The concert will include three Revolutionary War or War of 1812 cannons, two of Civil War vintage, two from World War II and two Korean War tanks.
John Osinski, a re-enactor with an artillery unit, will be the conductor of artillery for the concert. He's conducted cannons for the "1812 Overture" for the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The "1812 Overture" celebrates the Russians' defeat of Napoleon, and in those days, bells often rang to note a victory.
The October 11 concert will have bells, too. Chiming in will be the school bell at the Oliver Schoolhouse and the Schoharie Academy bell in the Badgley Museum, both at the Stone Fort Complex.
Mr. Kopecky also hopes to have the bell from the Schoharie Reformed Church join the show.
Dan Beams, the museum's curator, will be the conductor of bells.
The concert, which is free and begins at 5pm, begins with Skip Parsons' Riverboat Band, followed by the cannons and the Schoharie Valley Concert Band--in which Mr. Kopecky plays the bassoon--and finishes with the Burnt Hills Melody Makers, a big band.
"We're going from big bang to big band," said Mr. Kopecky.
The History Fair will run 10-5 next Saturday and noon-5 on Sunday.
On hand will be several local historical societies, the Iroquois Indian Museum and "a very large contingent from the Military Vehicle Collector's Club," Mr. Kopecky said.
Also, there will be a military timeline, with re-enactors representing Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I--because the centennial is beginning--and World War II.
On hand too will be Clifford Oliver portraying Solomon Northup in "12 Years a Slave," JD Winslow and his horses, the Golden Fleece Spinners and Weavers Guild and the Gas-Up.
The History Fair's variety encourages people to become interested in history. The Historical Society's articles of incorporation from 1889 note that the society is "to create an interest in historical matters. . ."
"That's what it's still all about," Mr. Kopecky said. "It shows that history is still relevant to our lives today."
Mr. Kopecky stressed that this History Fair depends on the Stone Fort's partnerships--with re-enactors, the Spinners and Weavers Guild, and especially the arts.
The Stone Fort received a decentralization grant from the Greene County Council of the Arts to make the concert possible. Other grants came from the county's Occupancy Tax Board and the state Humanities Council.
Mr. Kopecky also pointed to the Donna Lavigne Agency, along with Fenimore Asset Management and Kintz Plastics, as being major sponsors.