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Fort Nisqually Events 2019

April 13
Sewing to Sowing

Experience the joys and labors of springtime in the 1850s.

Guests can check out our poultry house and visit with our heritage breed chickens and rooster. 

Families can get their hands dirty in the Fort’s heritage gardens, which include the kitchen garden, a small orchard, and field crops.

Visitors can help operate the Fort’s 1800’s winnowing machine and learn more about the agricultural enterprises of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The ladies of the Fort will demonstrate various hand-sewing techniques and operate one of the world’s earliest sewing machines, the Wheeler and Wilson. Visitors can learn to sew a button and do some simple embroidery.  A fine assortment of needlework by the Fort’s sewing guild will be available for sale. All proceeds support the Fort’s historical clothing collection. 

As always, visitors will encounter several dozen historic interpreters while they cook in the kitchen, play music on the porch, spin yarn in the Laborers’ Dwelling, and hammer in the blacksmith’s shop.


May 18
Queen Victoria's Birthday

Join us for a day of revelry in honor of Queen Victoria's 200th birthday!

At noon, bagpipes will announce the start of the traditional tributes to the Queen, including a musket volley, toasts by the gentlemen of the Fort, and a cannon salute.

Many of the Fort's ladies and gentlemen will be dressed in their finest 1850s fashion.

Throughout the day, visitors can barter with clerks in the Sale Shop and watch the blacksmiths working at the forge.  The public is invited to join a round of croquet, trundle a hoop, or engage in a spirited game of graces. There will be tea, lemonade, and cookies while supplies last.

The birthday of Queen Victoria (May 24, 1819-1901) was celebrated by her subjects throughout the British Empire. At Hudson’s Bay Company forts across North America, the custom historically called for the declaration of the day as a holiday — all the laborers and servants had the day off.

Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 and was the reigning monarch for most of Fort Nisqually's active period (1833-1869). She ruled for almost 64 years, and was the longest-reigning British monarch  until 2007 when Queen Elizabeth claimed that distinction.

June 15
Plough to Plate

Discover farm to table, 19th century style, at Plough to Plate!  

Throughout the day guests can tour the heritage kitchen garden and poultry house, orchard, and grain patch and learn how these relate to the agricultural history of the Fort. To get in on the act visitors can try churning butter and hauling water with a yoke.

Kids can participate in an egg and spoon race, a common entertainment in the 19th century.

For the adults we will hold a pancake race, a traditional British amusement involving a relay while flipping pancakes in a frying pan.

The highlight of the day is the cooking competition with our period chefs trying their hardest to impress the judges with flavor and presentation to win the coveted “Golden Skillet” nad "Golden Mold" awards. Judging takes place at 3:30 p.m.

July 12
Family Fun Night

Grab your picnic blankets and lawn chairs and head to 1855 for an evening of old fashioned family fun! 

On Friday, July 12th from 6pm to 9pm Fort Nisqually will host Family Fun Night, an evening of 19th century entertainment for kids of all ages. Families can bring a picnic dinner and settle in for games, music, and the firing of the candy cannon!

Earn prizes for competing in classic competitions like a plate and cup race, sack race, and three legged race. Think you know the fort? We’ve devised the ultimate challenge with participants accomplishing tasks around the site to win a special reward. Music was a big part of life at Fort Nisqually in 1855.

Kids will have a chance to hear instruments common to the period, learn a song on the penny whistle, and pluck a mandolin and dulcimer. The highlight of the evening comes with the firing of saltwater taffy from the candy cannon. Scramble across our meadow and collect as much candy as you can hold!

August 10 & 11
Brigade Encampment

Travel back to 1855 during one of the largest museum events of the year as living historians set up dozens of tents at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum.

The event recreates the bustle and excitement of the historic visit of fur traders to the Fort in 1855. Guests will witness the arrival of the brigade (the convoy that delivered a year’s worth of furs) and spirited contests between trappers and traders – from obstacle course races to cooking contests.

At 11:30 a.m. each day, the fur trade brigade arrives, led by bagpipers and welcomed by a volley of musket fire. The day unfolds with competitions, Punch and Judy puppet shows, fashion shows and musical performances. Visitors can participate in "Engagé for the Day," and meet living historians who demonstrate and teach heritage skills such as fire starting and spinning wool. For each new skill tried, kids collect beads and receive souvenir contracts from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

September 7
Harvest Home

Join us to celebrate the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn at our Harvest Home festival.

Visitors can learn to make corn husk dolls, weave wheat straw, play popular Victorian games, and help decorate the hock cart that will carry the last sheaf of wheat through the fort to the granary.

The Puget Sound Revels will sing and dance to harvest songs and a harvest king and queen will be crowned from among the fort’s teen volunteers.

The public is also invited to press cider. 

September 21
Smithsonian Museum Day

At Fort Nisqually visitors can 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 factors House, both National Historic Landmarks, and a visitor center with museum store.

Explore the award winning restoration of the fort’s National Historic Landmark buildings, try your hand at 19th century games and discover what life was like before electricity!

Visit for FREE on Sept. 21 during the national event "Smithsonian Museum Day Live!" 

Admission is also free on Sept. 21 for Tacoma residents with proof of residency.

October 4 & 5
Candlelight Tour

Campfires and candlelight provide illumination for this magical evening walking tour of Fort Nisqually Living History Museum.

Guests eavesdrop as more than a hundred historical interpreters bring to life the men, women, and children of the Hudson’s Bay Company. 

This year, guests will arrive during October of 1857. Many of the Fort’s residents will be celebrating the marriage of Letitia Work and fort clerk Edward Huggins. Visitor’s will encounter gentlemen and their wives, American settler families, experienced trappers, Scottish and French-Canadian laborers, young people at a dance, blacksmiths working at the forge, clerks in the sale shop, and cooks in the kitchen.

Advance ticket purchase required. 

December 7
Christmas Regale

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern holidays and experience a real old-fashioned Christmas at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum. A highlight of the event is the arrival of the yule log, towed in by young visitors at 1 pm. Everyone can join in greeting the yule log with toasts and Christmas carols. Guests will have a chance to saw off a piece of the log to take home for their own holiday fire.

Throughout the day, visitors of all ages can join in parlor games, make ornaments and learn traditional dances.

Father Christmas will be available for visits and photos.