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Twelfth Night Ball remains popular at Old Fort Niagara

YOUNGSTOWN – Tickets are going fast for the popular Twelfth Night Ball, planned for Jan. 10 at Old Fort Niagara.

The event, which always sells out, gives participants a glimpse of how the Twelfth Night was celebrated in the 18th century, as they are taught traditional country dances and enjoy live music, beverages and dessert.

Twelfth Night celebrated Epiphany, the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and marked the most festive part of the holiday season, according to Robert Emerson, the fort’s executive director.

It was traditionally “a big party and big feast,” he noted.

The ball will start at 7 p.m. in the Fort Niagara Officers Club.

The celebration begins with the distribution of slices of “three kings” cake, followed by the crowning of the king and queen of the ball.

“A couple of beans are baked into the cake and it is sliced and served randomly and the people who get the slices with a bean become the king and queen of the ball,” explained Emerson.

After a grand procession, participants learn and practice a series of the most popular Georgian-era country dances, as demonstrated and taught by Gere Brubaker.

“A popular dance of the day was the minuet, but it is difficult and it was a higher-class dance and more formal,” Emerson said.

“We will have country dancing, which anyone could do back then. It was much more informal, and you don’t have to know how to dance to learn these dances.”

Downstairs, guests will enjoy an 18th-century tavern, complete with bawdy songs and period games. The evening concludes with a grand illumination.

Tickets to the event are $40 per person and must be purchased in advance by calling 745-7611. Proceeds benefit Old Fort Niagara’s educational programming.

“There are two things we are working on this winter, and one is updating and meeting the changing curriculum standards,” Emerson said.

“We will be introducing more primary documents. And, during school-tour season, which peaks in May and June, we’ll be providing more theme days that are curriculum-related.

“The fort has always been a fun place for students to visit, but we need to support what the teachers need to meet their educational objectives, too.”