Nearly 7,000 costumed participants will be a part of the 45th annual Feast of the Hunters’ Moon Festival Saturday and Sunday.
The feast, which is hosted by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association celebrates the history of Fort Ouiatenon, the first white settlement in the state that was originally established in 1717 as a fur trading post. The feast is meant to recreate the time of year when the native peoples, the settlers and the visitors at the fort would come together to celebrate a successful harvest season.
Feast coordinator, Leslie Martin Conwell, has been a part of the feast for nearly 38 years. She remembers being fascinated by her first attendance to the event when she was 15.
“It was so visually beautiful, so vibrant,” Conwell said. “It was so alive. I’d never seen history portrayed in (that) fashion.”
Conwell described the feast as diversity and multiculturalism at its best. Those in attendance will see 18th century period outfits of multiple native tribes, as well as French, British and American colonial wear.
Everything at the event reflects the time period of the 18th century, including the items on sale and the food. Conwell said the food is a major attraction for many people.
“It’s called the Feast of the Hunters’ Moon, but you virtually never hear anybody call it (that),” Conwell said. “Everybody calls it ‘the feast’ because it’s the food that people remember.”
Costumed participants go through an application process to be a part of the feast. All of their attire has to accurately represent that of a garment from the 18th century.
Dan Lima, a local resident, has been a part of the feast for 15 years. He got involved to give his children a better understanding of the history of the United States. It has become a family tradition for Lima’s family, whose daughter and grandchildren continue to be a part of historical reenactments.
Lima said he enjoys being a part of the feast because he likes educating people on the history of their country. With 30 acres of event grounds, Lima said there are a variety of activities for people to enjoy.
“You can go to one event and see Voyageurs canoeing down the Wabash,” Lima said. “You can go to another event and see French or British musicians playing and marching (or) you can see Native Americans dancing and storytelling.”
Conwell said the event is very visually vivid and is a different way to experience history. She had a little advice for first time attendees of the festival.
“It’s great to look at the schedule beforehand to make a plan, but don’t be so locked into your schedule that you don’t let something surprise you,” Conwell said. “If you see something interesting, go off the beaten path.”
The Feast of the Hunter’s Moon Festival will be held on the grounds of Fort Ouiatenon about four miles south of West Lafayette. A full list of events is available at: http://www.tcha.mus.in.us/feast.htm. A free shuttle service will run from Ross-Ade Stadium to the event grounds.