It might seem hard to imagine in an era where Gwinnett County is part of a sprawling metropolitan area, but once upon a time, this county was the edge of the frontier.
The days when what would become Gwinnett needed a military presence to keep the peace between white settlers and Native Americans will be highlighted at this weekend’s Ninth Annual Frontier Faire. The interactive and educational event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Fort Daniel Historic Monument, 2505 Braselton Highway in Buford.
The faire is staged each year by the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society.
“You get a chance to see archaeology, or the rediscovery of history, in action,” Frontier Faire publicity official Eli Stancel said. “It’s more than just a sign on the side of the road. You actually get to touch and feel, and see how we go through the process of discovering things.”
This year’s event will feature a special ribbon cutting — or more likely a “rope cutting” to be more true to the period — that will be held at 10 a.m., on the spot where the original gate for the War of 1812 era fort was located.
Stancel said officials from the foundation had a general idea of where the gate had been, but archaeologists from the foundation, GARS and Georgia State University found the exact site earlier this year. A new replica gate has been erected and the “rope cutting” will be held to open it to the public.
“What (Fort Daniel Foundation president Jim D’Angelo) and the other archaeologists have done is they excavated the original post holes all the way below where there are any other artifacts left to find, and an area around that, so they were able to put the new gate posts right where the originals had been,” Stancel said.
Fort Daniel, which sat on Hog Mountain, predated Gwinnett County by about four years and became the staging ground for a road that went to another fort at Standing Peachtree, known as Fort Peachtree. That road, according to officials from the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Society, was the original Peachtree Road.
The opening of the replica gate marks the second year in a row that the faire has included the opening for some new feature for the site. Last year’s event featured the opening of the blacksmith’s shop, which is now fully operational and will be open for this year’s festival.
In addition to the ribbon (or rope) cutting, this weekend’s Frontier Faire will also feature many of the event’s traditional hallmarks, such as opportunities for attendees to participate in archaeological excavations, War of 1812 reenactors giving flintlock musket demonstrations, presentations by local members of the Sons of the American Revolution, frontier life demonstrations and Native American food preparation and hominy demonstrations.
Stancel said the hominy demonstration is a new addition for this year’s event. Another new addition will be a “Meet the Descendants” area where visitors can talk to people who are descended from people who built the fort, where stationed there or helped build the road to Fort Peachtree.
There will also be tours of the Fort Daniel Museum and Archaeology Lab, as well as chances to check out the ArchaeoBus mobile archaeology classroom. Items found during past excavations at the site will be on display for guests to view.
Attendees will also have a chance to shop in the Hog Mountain Trading Post.
Visitors who attend the faire can park in the front yard of the house on the property. The Fort Daniel Museum is located in the basement of the house, and excavation site and blacksmith shop is located behind it.
Admission is $2 for individuals and $5 for families.