The 18th Century Market Fair at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s First State Heritage Park, 102 S. State St., Dover, allows visitors to leave the 21st century behind for a few hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2.
The Dover Green, part of the First State National Historical Park, was the center of life in Dover in the 1700s and the site of annual autumn market fairs.
“For the tenth year for the Market Fair on The Green in Dover we are going to make it extra special,” said Heritage Park Superintendent Sarah Zimmerman, “and each year more and more people have attended as word has spread of what a fun, free event this is for all ages.”
In past years, almost 5,000 visitors chatted with living history characters, watched traditional artisans at work, and enjoyed comical interactive performances—all with an 18th-century twist.
“One important part of Market Fair, besides pure entertainment, is a chance to watch traditional craftspeople at work,” said Zimmerman. “Many people, especially children, have never had an opportunity to experience this.”
Returning this year will be Signora Bella — the Great Italian Equilibrist — who brings to life the tradition of the travelling performer of the 1700s as she juggles knives and flaming torches, while balancing on a rope and a giant ball. Back by popular demand will be Dr. Balthazar and his Marvelous Miracle Medicine Show. Dr. Balthasar offers audiences a “magical miracle medicine that cures everything from a common cold to death of two weeks’ standing” as he engages audience members in his performance.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary, the Market Fair will include an historical theater reenactment of “Black Munday Insurrection” where opinions clashed in Dover over the idea of independence. Join in the action to find out how the people of Dover reacted to the stirrings of Revolution. Some of the characters include Col. John Haslet and Thomas Rodney, Caesar Rodney’s younger brother. One of the loyalists will be thrown into the pillory.
Children can enjoy the many hands-on activities, engage in a military muster with the 1st Delaware Regiment, or visit the free photo booth where visitors can have their picture taken with fun props from the colonial era to create their Market Fair Memories. Children will also have the opportunity to make cornhusk dolls and earn their Junior Ranger badge with the National Park Service.
Modern day photographers have the opportunity to win a 2020 Delaware State Parks Pass as well as the chance to be featured in promotional material for next year’s Market Fair. Join the Instagram contest by using #FSHPMarketFair in photos.
The Dover Century Club will be transformed into the Market Fair Inn, offering pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, beef hot dogs, home-style soups, vegetarian chili, autumn sweet treats and beverages for purchase. All proceeds benefiting the club’s youth scholarship and building funds.
Admission to the fair is free, with handcrafted items available for purchase. The event is rain or shine, but will be moved to indoor locations around The Green in the event of inclement weather.
For more, visit destateparks.com/marketfair.