Spirit of the Jerseys State Historical Fair – New Jersey Shows Its Historical Roots at Washington Crossing State Park

by Alice Magdziak • May 13, 2013 • Events, Mercer, PhotographyComments (0)2500

Titusville’s Washington Crossing State Park held the State Historical Fair on Saturday and if you weren’t able to attend, you missed a really great time! This year’s theme was “Spirit of the Jerseys.” Just when we thought we knew a lot about our great state, we discovered that there’s always more to learn about.

The event is held every year in May, rain or shine.  This year looked like it would be a rainy one for the fair but for the four hours that we were there it held off and didn’t damper the festivities.  Some presenters were cancelled but we weren’t sure if that was because of the possibly bad weather or not.  We were really looking forward to the 19th Century Baseball Game but it wasn’t held.  The Hoboken Nine and the Elizabeth Resolutes were going to play a game with period uniforms and equipment using the game’s original rules.

Despite the disappointment over the cancelled baseball game, there were still plenty of fun activities and interesting exhibitors. The exhibits were arranged by the various centuries which made walking through the park feel like progressing back through time.  The 20th and 21st Centuries were the first area we arrived at by the Visitors Center and near the main parking areas.  There were classic cars, fire trucks and WWII soldiers and their pin-up girls.

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Highlights of the modern section included a booth from The American Labor Museum and Botto House National Landmark, the New Jersey Lighthouse Society, New Jersey Surf Museum at Tuckerton Seaport and a very interesting talk with the folks from Preservation New Jersey who will announce their Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey on Wednesday.

The next main section was the 19th Century and Agricultural Activities area.


The farming area was buzzing with activity thanks to the Howell Living History Farm.  There were draught horses giving a plowing demonstration. Jersey milking cows were on display.  Butter was churning and wagon rides were available.  The 19th Century exhibit area had Walt Whitman, in person, reading poetry and telling stories from his booth representing the Walt Whitman House; a tin-type photographer was showing how Civil War era photographs were taken and lots of museum exhibits. We learned so much about New Jersey’s history in this section that it’s too hard to even write up.  Highlights were Boxwood Hall, where Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress that ratified the Peace Treaty with Great Britain, lived and the Historic Burlington County Prison Museum. The Prison Museum has an annual fundraising haunted prison event that the museum’s spokesperson said was too scary for him!  How great does that sound??

The last section we visited was the Stone Barn and 18th Century area.

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The 18th Century was presented with more demonstrations than exhibits.  There were parades of military fife and drum bands, craftspeople like a blacksmith and a weaver, a Dutch cooking display and The Seadog singers you can see above.

There were even parts of the fair that we didn’t make it to.  Across the street near the canal were boat rides, a Native American exhibit area and English hearth cooking demonstrations.  There was so much to see that we couldn’t take it all in.

Check out all the pictures from our visit to the New Jersey State Historical Fair and we’ll see you there next year!

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