National Park Service will host ‘Christmas at Fort Vancouver’ on Dec. 10

VANCOUVER — Experience the sights and sounds of the 1840s Victorian-era winter holiday season at the annual “Christmas at Fort Vancouver” special event on Sat., Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

At the fort, visitors will hear caroling by the Madrigal Singers as they enjoy warm holiday wassail, games, craft making and music with historical dancing. In addition, the festive ambiance at “Christmas at Fort Vancouver” will provide a memorable historic holiday scene where visitors with cameras can capture photos of friends and family with costumed reenactors.

Popular blacksmithing and black powder demonstrations will also be held throughout the holiday event. The park will provide craft materials needed for attendees to make wooden toy tops, wreaths, tassels and potpourri ornaments, which families can use to make their own Victorian-era holiday treasures to decorate their homes or to give as gifts.

“For the diverse fur trade community that lived here in the 1840s, the holidays were a time to come together and celebrate,” said Acting Chief Ranger Bob Cromwell, “For many years, this event has been bringing together our diverse modern community. We hope that everyone who comes to Christmas at Fort Vancouver will not just learn about history, but will also find new ways to celebrate this season of togetherness.”

In conjunction with holiday activities at the reconstructed fort, visitors are invited to join in “A Celebration of Birds,” hosted by the Friends of Fort Vancouver at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center. Current featured artist Joy Pomaika’i Hou’oli O’Hearn, will demonstrate the traditions and techniques of Hawaiian feather art for the public from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Free children’s activities will also be available. Through a generous donation from Home Depot, children will be able to build and take home birdhouses (supplies limited), and volunteers will help children make pine cone bird feeders. The Friends of Fort Vancouver Bookstore at the Visitor Center will also be open and is a perfect spot to find a unique gift.

Also at the Visitor Center, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will have a beautiful noble fir on display in the lobby. Gifford Pinchot National Forest is selling personal-use Christmas tree cutting permits at all forest offices, including the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center. Permits are $5 and there is a limit of five permits per household. Christmas tree permits include a map of cutting areas and special instruction for cutting Christmas trees on the national forest.

Additionally, as part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative, all fourth graders are eligible for a free national forest Christmas tree permit. For more information, call the US Forest Service at (360) 891-5001.

Schedule of Events at the Reconstructed Fort (1001 E. Fifth Ave., Vancouver)

  • 10:30 a.m., Blast of Black Powder! Historic Weapons Demonstration
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Christmas caroling by Madrigal Singers
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Ongoing hands-on activities (while supplies last):
  • Build your own toy top
  • Taste apple wassail
  • Craft your own holiday wreath
  • Make your own Victorian handcrafts
  • Winter-themed storytelling
  • Play games of the 1840s
  • Pose for a holiday photo with costumed reenactors
  • Visit the Historic Kitchen and watch a cooking demonstration
  • Visit the Blacksmith Shop and talk with volunteers demonstrating the lost art of blacksmithing
  • 1-3 p.m., Learn a holiday jig and sing along to carols. Participatory music and dancing in the Counting House.
  • 2 p.m., Blast of Black Powder! Historic Weapons Demonstration

Cost to attend the “Christmas at Fort Vancouver” event is $5 for adults, free for youth ages 15 and younger.

This information was provided by the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

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About The Author

Joanna Nicole Yorke is a 2010 graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in political science. Yorke is a Clark County native, growing up on her family's 12-acre farm in La Center where her family still resides today. She was previously a reporter at The Reflector Newspaper, covering the city of Battle Ground, the Battle Ground School District and a variety of other areas and topics.

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