Trades: Then and Now at Ft St Jean Baptiste

From canning to basket weaving and blacksmithing, and the occasional flintlock rifle firing, Natchitoches’ Ft. St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site was the place to be Saturday, March 25 for a day of family fun and learning. Over 100 visitors joined 16 colonial reenactors and crafters representing a variety of trades and skills from the 18th through the 20th century.

Marty Young from LSUS’ Pioneer Heritage Center was on hand demonstrating blacksmithing skills while Geraldine Zelinsky and her fellow crafters of the NWLA Basket Makers made beautifully crafted baskets from pine straw. Another craftsman brought back to life the art of making quill pens. Other reenactors portrayed traders who roamed the colonial landscape of the 18th century.

Ft. St. Jean Baptiste is a faithful recreation of a fort from Louisiana’s colonial era. The fort was laid out from plans found by historical researchers and features authentically handcrafted hardware and bousillage in its construction. The staff of interpretive rangers and volunteers are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about sharing their love of history with visitors. Our state has no finer ambassadors than the hard-working group of men and women who work at Ft. St. Jean Baptiste and the other parks and historical sites across Louisiana.