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Celebrate Independence Day in Grand Style in Schoharie County

Written By Michael on 7/3/15 | 7/3/15

COBLESKILL - On a battle site of the Revolutionary War, the 4th of July is celebrated in grand style in Upstate New York’s Schoharie County.

At the Old Stone Fort:

The celebration of Independence Day begins at 10 a.m. as The Old Stone Fort Museum holds its annual Independence Day celebration until 4 p.m.

The Old Stone Fort was attacked by British, Loyalist American and Native American forces in 1780, and is located near George Mann's Tavern, site of a Loyalist, or "Tory" uprising in 1777. It houses exhibits on the American Revolutionary War, including a cannonball that struck the building in 1780.

Part of the annual celebration is Jeff O’Connor of Cobleskill, who not only reads the Declaration of Independence at the Old Stone Fort, but also is part of the argument for a new country.

“It’s a passion,” said Mr. O’Connor. “It’s my other life.”
For 15 years, Mr. O’Connor has spent the 4th of July at the Fort, reading, leading, and reacting to lessons learned from the war for independence.

“Here in Schoharie County, at the time of the revolution, people were pretty well off under royal rule. They were born Tories and had to become revolutionaries. It tore families apart and it’s no mystery as to why,” Mr. O’Connor noted.

“There are 17 recorded toasts at a gathering celebrating the win of the revolutionaries. I’ve done the toasts in the past. But, I’ve never taken the role of a Tory,” he said.

Readings of the Declaration of Independence and other documents of the time will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Throughout the day, museum staff and historical re-enactors will engage in “living history” and visitor-interactive debates on the issues of taxation, self government, and armed militias rebelling against the government.

All Independence Day outdoor activities are admission free. The regular museum admission rates apply to indoor exhibits. The event is co-produced by the Schoharie County Historical Society and the Burning of the Valleys Military Association, a regional organization of groups and individuals portraying early American history in and around the Schoharie, Mohawk and Hudson Valleys. Stone Fort Days, a large battle re-enactment event is scheduled for October 3 and 4, 2015.

And, in Cobleskill:

Later in the day, an Old-Fashioned 4th of July celebration takes over downtown Cobleskill and the Cobleskill Fairgrounds.

It starts at 2 p.m. at the Fairgrounds with food, crafts, music and dance.

A lineup begins at 4:30 p.m. for the annual parade “shows off the county,” said Jacqui Hauser of the Cobleskill Partnership, Inc., one of the organizing groups.

“The parade is hometown charming and lots of floats dress up in old-fashioned décor to give a feel of yesteryear. At 5 p.m., the parade marches through downtown to the Fairgrounds, “where there is a family fun park and people waiting. Of course, the fireworks are at dark and just excellent,” Ms. Hauser said.

Also working on the 4th of July celebration in Cobleskill are Friends of the Fourth and the Fusion Churches. Fireworks are paid by donations.
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