Visitors to Arsenal Park spent a day in colonial North Carolina, Saturday, as they celebrated the birthday of marquis de Lafayette, the namesake of Fayetteville.
The sounds of African spirituals greeted Families as they entered the park. Life as Art Productions performed freedom prayers sung by slaves in Revolutionary War-era America and discussed the impact they had during and after the war.
After enjoying music, attendees strolled through the park and encountered costumed reenactors demonstrating aspects of daily life in colonial North Carolina, including surveying, fire starting, spinning and more.
Families who attended the celebration said they came for the history.
“I like to show the kids how they used to live,” explained Roxanna Pagan, a Fort Bragg Family member.
Amanda Pagan Lambert, 10, and Marina Cruz, 2, were fascinated by the fire starting demonstration given by Jim Van Ness, an Army veteran and member of Hesse Kassel Jaeger Korps. Jim explained how colonial Soldiers used flint and rope to light their pipes.
Lessons like these are the reason the Mendoza Family attended the festival.
“We homeschool, so we like to expose them to different things,” said Fort Bragg Family member Mehgan Mendoza while her sons Aiden, 5, and Evander, 7, experienced life in the “gallows.”
Another highlight of the day for youth was Lafayette’s birthday cake, which was cut by Mayor Nat Robertson and Miss Fayetteville Crystal Byrd.
Military demonstrations, including cannon and musket firings, also helped visitors understand the history and significance of Lafayette’s contribution to the Fayetteville area.
Uschi Van Ness, Fayetteville resident and historical reenactor with HKJK, said these events are important for the community.
“It’s keeping the history going — what they invented and used back then, like flint and steel, those things are incredible.”