Fort Vancouver National Historic Site To Host Campfires And Candlelight Event

The 30th annual Campfires and Candlelight event is coming to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on September 14. Photo courtesy of Christopher Communications.

A three-decade-long tradition will continue September 14 at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site when the fort serves as the backdrop for the 30th Annual Campfires and Candlelight event.

This interactive, living history event was first held in 1983. It features costumed staff and more than 150 volunteers in encampments and re-enactments on the grounds and inside the buildings of the reconstructed Hudson's Bay Company fort at the national historic site located in Vancouver, Washington.

The tour begins by leading visitors back through the site's past along the Timeline of History, where encampments and demonstrations shadow the lantern-lit, ADA accessible pathway and highlight key people and events from the site's history.

Among numerous opportunities, visitors can scrub rags against a washboard alongside 19th century Army washerwomen, smell the spruce of the World War I-era Spruce Production Division camp, tap rudiments on a snare drum with post-Civil War soldiers, cover ears at the boom of an Army mountain howitzer, play shadow puppets against the lantern-lit canvas of an Oregon Trail wagon, spark a fire with flint and steel and throw trade axes in the Fort Vancouver Village camp, speak in Russian with a reenactor portraying famed Soviet pilot Valery Chkalov, and inspect uniforms and camp equipment from soldiers from many eras.

The Timeline of History ends at the gate to the reconstructed stockade, where visitors can step back in time to September 13, 1846---a night the usually-quiet fort buzzed with activity as the Hudson's Bay Company organized a relief effort for the wreck of the American naval vessel USS Shark at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Visitors will be able to observe and interact with reenactors in numerous fort buildings, including the Blacksmith Shop, Bake House, Chief Factor's House, Counting House, Carpenters Shop, Kitchen, and Dispensary.

Campfires and Candlelight is Fort Vancouver's largest costumed re-enactment, and is only possible through the help of more than 150 costumed interpreters from the park's volunteer team, the park's youth volunteer team, and multiple community partners.

The event will be held September 14 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Timeline of History and plowing demonstration begin at 4 p.m. and the reconstructed fort opens at 5 p.m.