Bagpipes, black powder and beards at the 37th annual Brigade Encampment

Fort Nisqually

Step back in time to the early days of the Washington Territory at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum’s annual Brigade Encampment.

This event recreates the lively visit of a large group of fur traders (a brigade) to the Fort in 1855. The Brigade Encampment will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on August 10 and 11. Admission is $10-$15, ages three and younger are free. For more information, visit FortNisqually.org or call (253) 404-3970.

At 11:30 a.m. each day, guests will witness the arrival of the fur trade brigade, led by bagpipers and welcomed by a volley of musket fire. The day unfolds with competitions, Punch and Judy puppet shows and musical performances. Families can participate in “Engagé for the Day,” visiting with living historians at their tents to learn heritage skills such as rope making, weaving, and woodcarving. Children collect beads for each new skill and receive their own contract from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Back again by popular demand – Battle of the Brigade Beards, presented in partnership with the Grit City Society of Beards. Awards will be presented for best in show for the Trapper, Laborer, Gentleman, Madame, and Kit (children) beards. The whisker-less are invited to create their beard out of craft materials to enter in the competition. A 1850s salon will be open for pre-competition beard grooming and hairstyling. Registration for the contest closes at 3 p.m. on Saturday and judging will begin at 3:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Fort Nisqually will welcome the Pacific Ohana Foundation for a special performance of music and dance celebrating the many contributions of Hawaiians to the Hudson’s Bay Company and Fort Nisqually. Hawaiian employees performed at the 1855 Brigade.

The Brigade system was utilized by the company to facilitate the collection of its annual “returns” (furs) and distribution of “outfits” (supplies headed to far-flung district posts). 1855 was the only year the company’s Brigade, which was always associated with celebration, was held at Fort Nisqually.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost and headquarters of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. Visitors travel back in time and experience life in Washington Territory during the 1850s. Nine buildings are open to the public, including the Granary and the Factor’s House, both National Historic Landmarks, and a Visitor Center with Museum Store.

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Posted In: Places, Fort Nisqually