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History comes alive at annual Trade Fair

Traders specialize in 1750s to 1830s products

March 12, 2012
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - Men and women adored in layers of fur, piles of muzzle loader rifles stacked on the table and heavy metal bear traps were just a few of the sights on display this weekend at the 31st annual Black Powder New Ulm Trade Fair and Living History Event at Turner Hall.

The event assembled a collection of traders and historians specializing in 1750s to 1830s products. Every vendor was required to wear clothing appropriate to those eras, giving a festival-like atmosphere to the activities.

Trade Fair organizer Michael Emery, of Woodbury, said the event was fun for people avid about that period of history. He said the event attracted more than 1,200 from the participating five-state area, which included Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Charles Knutson of Historic Games in Minneapolis demonstrates the “turning” of a bone into an object that might possibly be used as a game piece in board games the business creates that are modeled after European games from the 1700s and earlier.

"It's a tight knit group that really enjoys coming to the event," said Emery.

The event had 110 vendors selling their wares over Saturday and Sunday. Traditional items, like muzzle loader guns, knives and furs were in heavy supply. Other unique services were available as well.

Bruce LePage, Grantsburg, Wis., showed off his craft of building and engraving guns. He has a master's degree in art and prefers to express himself in a nontraditional way.

"Most of my business is in engravings," said LePage, "I do this full-time."

The other frontier-era service on display featured demonstrations of "turning" bone by Charles and Beth Knutson of Historic Games in Minneapolis. Turning involves carving wood, bone or ivory while the object spins horizontally. The Knutsons used a replica machine from the fur-trader era that relies on one hand using a bow to generate the spin and the other hand using a tool to carve the object.

Turning is a hobby alongside their main business, which is selling historic European games from the 1700s and earlier. They create their own authentic fabric game boards and playing cards for the games. The hobby is sometimes used to create pieces for the games.

They sell their products online at

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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