ROCKTON - History enthusiasts and reenactors from across the Midwest converged on Macktown Forest Preserve during Saturday's Frenchman's Frolic in Rockton to revel in old fashioned trading and pre-1850s lifestyles.
"Some people - this is what they do. This is their hobby," Macktown Living History volunteer Lucy Adignola said.
In anticipation of the annual event, some among the dozens of vendors had begun setting up their tents early Wednesday, Adignola said.
Event organizer Mike Bost said the annual event draws hundreds of vendors and visitors every year.
Absent of running water and electricity, reenactors portraying famous figures such as Benjamin Franklin and volunteers with local organizations educated visitors about history, Adignola said. Wildlife such as cranes could also be heard flying overhead after a cannon was fired during opening ceremonies.
Doug Akers traveled nearly three hours from Coggon, Iowa, to trade and sell handcrafted tomahawks, throwing knives, brass tacks, wooden swords, pelts, hats, decorative stones and necklaces, among other things.
"I try to carry a little bit of everything," Akers said.
Akers said Saturday was his first time participating in the Frenchman's Frolic event, and he enjoyed meeting new people with similar interests in history.
"It's just like an extended family," Akers said.
Husband and wife Jim and Rebecca Fairchild of Batavia, Illinois, build tents for merchants at various historically-themed events. They've been designing tents for 11 years and have attended the Frenchman's Frolic for 20 years.
"We see these folks in camp more than our own families, actually," Jim Fairchild said.
Their tent on display Saturday was built using treated cotton duck canvas. Jim Fairchild said it wasn't entirely accurate according to history, but they wanted their tent to be waterproof in case of rain.