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History comes to life at 27th annual Rock Hall fair

During the 27th annual Rock Hall Museum Country

During the 27th annual Rock Hall Museum Country Fair held on the museum grounds in Lawrence, a re-enactor cook from the Confederate Army's 30th Virginia Infantry Company B explains how she keeps soldiers fed in camp and during battle. (Oct. 20, 2012) Credit: Mary Kate Mahoney

Private Ryan Reece of the Confederate Army’s 30th Virginia Infantry Company B found himself stationed in Union territory this weekend, when he joined the encampment at the 27th annual Rock Hall Museum Country Fair in Lawrence.

Reece, 27, of Northport, has been participating in Civil War re-enactments in towns all along the East Coast since he was 7 years old.

“My father got me into it,” Reece said. “It’s a fun hobby, teaching kids about the Civil War and what it was like to live in the camps and fight battles.”

Co-sponsored by the Town of Hempstead and the Friends of Rock Hall Museum, the fair which features a different historic re-enactment each year attracts 5,000 visitors over two days and raises between $5,000 and $10,000. The funds go toward the restoration and preservation of the museum as well as plans to construct a barn on the property that will house a visitor’s center.

“There are so many different phases of history to be studied in this area,” said Lawrence resident Linda Barreira, the Rock Hall Museum director. “Every year we try to research and explore something different.”

Built in 1767, Rock Hall was home to the Martin family, loyalist sympathizers during the Revolutionary War. The annual fair features actors in Revolutionary-era attire displaying cookware, weaponry and clothing from the time period.

Other volunteers delved even deeper into local history.

Artist Arthur Kirmss, of Glendale, demonstrated the art of creating wampum, cylindrical beads made of quahog shell, held sacred by American Indians and adopted as a form of currency by the first Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam. Wampum was the tender used in the famously low-priced purchase of Manhattan Island.

Kirmss crafts the wampum using the same wooden and stone tools used by American Indians. He and his wife, Ellen Brody-Kirmss, have been holding demonstrations at the Rock Hall Country Fair for more than 15 years.

“We love celebrating the history of the local area,” Brody-Kirmss said.

Along with historic crafts, the fair provided a venue for local artists and businesses to sell modern clothing, jewelry, toys, ornaments and food.

Christina Dicarella, of Valley Stream, brings her children Diana, 13, and Joseph, 7, to the fair every year.

“I love all the history here and the fall festivities,” Dicarella said. “Every year we make a scarecrow for the house here. It’s our family tradition.”

Above: During the 27th annual Rock Hall Museum Country Fair held on the museum grounds in Lawrence, a re-enactor cook from the Confederate Army's 30th Virginia Infantry Company B explains how she keeps soldiers fed in camp and during battle. (Oct. 20, 2012)

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