Fayette Heritage Day celebrates company town’s 150th birthday

FAYETTE — Blacksmith demonstrations, music, games and sporting activities await visitors at Fayette Historic State Park’s annual Heritage Day celebration, Saturday, Aug. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year, the event features a special reunion marking 150 years since the iron-smelting company town of Fayette was founded on the Garden Peninsula.

The 19th-century-themed event celebrates Fayette’s rich social and industrial heritage. Special guests include:

– Michael Deren, immersing his audience in music and history as he plays the role of an 1870s iron worker.

– Blacksmith George Potvin and blacksmith/bladesmith Dan Choszczyk, demonstrating their skilled trades.

– Dodworth Duo Strolling Serenaders, giving a concert at 11:30 a.m. and performances at various locations across the townsite in the afternoon.

Children’s games and activities include three-legged and sack races, lawn croquet and reproduction 19th-century toys. Anyone 13 years old or older can play a game of old-time baseball against the Fayette team. Heritage Day visitors also can enjoy a food tent sponsored by the Big Bay de Noc High School Booster Club and a bake sale.

“Our visitors have fun, memorable and unique experiences at Heritage Day,” said Fayette Historic Townsite historian Troy Henderson. “They hear authentic 19th-century music, see a blacksmith operating a real forge, play games that children enjoyed more than 100 years ago — all against the backdrop of the historic townsite and its beautiful natural setting.”

This year’s event marks the sesquicentennial anniversary with a special reunion for descendants of Fayette’s original families.

“We are continually striving to learn as much about the historic townsite as possible,” said Henderson. “There are many descendants of the original families who lived in Fayette. We hope they will join us for Heritage Day, meet other descendants and share their stories of our past.”

Fayette Historic Townsite is one of the nation’s premier examples of a 19th-century industrial community and company town. In operation from 1867 to 1891, its furnaces produced more than 229,000 tons of pig iron, becoming the second-largest producer of charcoal iron in Michigan. Today, 20 buildings are preserved, including the furnace complex, hotel, town hall, company office and several residences. Eleven buildings contain exhibits and are open to the public, including a modern visitor center with a scale model of the townsite as it looked in the 1880s.

Fayette Historic Townsite is a nationally accredited museum located 17 miles south of U.S. 2 on Highway 183 in Fayette Historic State Park. A Recreation Passport is required for park entry. For more information, call 906-644-2603 or visit www.michigan.gov/fayettetownsite.