YOUNGSTOWN – Looking for a way to shake off the winter doldrums?
Old Fort Niagara is hosting its boisterous “Tavern Nights” on March 1 and 8, giving guests a glimpse at “a low-class, 18th century, waterfront tavern,” according to Robert Emerson, the fort’s executive director.
The event features live period music, food and beverages, and a rowdy cast of historical characters, re-creating a tavern in the Fort Niagara Officers Club.
“This is all done in good fun,” said Emerson. “We’ll auction off an indentured servant or two, stage a fight … these are some pretty sleazy characters. My character is the sheriff, and my job is to keep it under control, but I don’t do it very well. We’ve had people dancing on tables in the past – and I mean the guests, not our volunteers. Sometimes, it gets pretty rowdy.”
Emerson said that similar events are held on historic sites in other parts of the country and that a volunteer suggested staging the event here nearly a decade ago.
“Every year it’s picked up momentum,” he noted. “The first day of ticket sales this year, Feb. 1, we sold 65 tickets. We can only accommodate about 80 (each night) because it’s a small room.
“This is a fundraiser for our educational programming, but it doesn’t depict an actual historic event,” he added. “We usually try and tell a story as true as we can determine, but this is not geared to teaching history, it’s just for fun.”
Emerson said the event draws volunteers from his staff as well as from the community. Taverns in the 18th century were social centers that attracted a wide variety of people, and this event gives guests a chance to rub elbows with politicians, card sharks, British army recruiters and women of questionable virtue, just to name a few.
Tickets are $30 and must be purchased in advance by calling (716) 745-7611, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit www.oldfortniagara.org.