Revolutionary War encampment offers a lesson in local history

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
East Granby - posted Thu., Oct. 10, 2013
Jack, 10, cuts wood with a drawknife with the help of a historical re-enactor at the recent Revolutionary War encampment. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
Jack, 10, cuts wood with a drawknife with the help of a historical re-enactor at the recent Revolutionary War encampment. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

One thing East Granby possesses is a lot of is history. When the Economic Development Commission members scratched their collective heads and asked themselves what sort of event to hold, a historical event immediately seemed like a good idea.

“You know, like many good ideas, this one started small and grew through collaboration,” said Paul Thulen, chairman of Historical East Granby. “At a meeting of the East Granby Economic Development Commission, we were discussing ways to promote East Granby as a destination for business, but also for people from surrounding towns to come and visit us.”

The idea for a Revolutionary War encampment caught on and started developing.

It was a beautiful autumn day on Oct. 5. East Granby Farms’ trees were in the process of changing to reds and oranges; a perfect setting for 18th century history. In the field, tents were set up with historic re-enactors displaying old-world crafts such as sewing, outdoor cooking, woodcarving and silver-smithing.

Despite the fact that the music performances had to be cancelled on Sunday due to weather, Tami Zawistowski, of the Economic Development Commission, estimated that almost 1,000 people made their way to the event throughout the weekend.

A highlight of the weekend surely was the extremely skillful performance by Marquis of Granby Ancient Fyfe & Drum Corps of Granby. This fife and drum band marched from the hill to the East Granby Farms barn playing Revolutionary War-era music. Ye Olde Lebanon Towne Militia followed close behind, completing the colonial scene.

According to Zawistowski, “widespread support from the community” is what made this event such a success. Groups such as the East Granby Land Trust, East Granby Lions, the Women’s Club of East Granby, the Daughters of the American Revolution and, of course, the East Granby Historical Society all provided their support, and in some cases, volunteers.

“Our 18th century guests did an incredible job both educating and entertaining, but what struck me most was how much everyone was smiling,” said Zawistowski.

“We are home for some pretty high-tech aerospace technology, including over 25 businesses whose products either include or use lasers for manufacturing,” said Thulen. “But, we are also the home for the first coin minted in the United States. We see East Granby as a place where our history meets the technology for the future.”

The EDC is considering the idea of making this an annual event.

“America’s place in history is unique and should be appreciated by us all. At its heart is its people,” said Thulen. “In a small-town way, I think we did our forefathers proud this past weekend. We celebrated their achievements, and maybe reminded ourselves a bit how we came to be what we are today.”


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