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A cheerful “Redcoat” greeted Lorenzo Peña, admired his choice for his color shirt leaving him bewildered, his classmates shrugging their shoulders in bafflement when we first arrived.

Lorenzo, his 5th grade classmates, teachers Mrs.Schmechel and Mrs.French and 9 chaperones had arrived at Riley's Farm, a working apple orchard and living history farm where visitors get to experience 18th or 19th century America.

After Mrs. Joseph, one of our chaperones, got us organized by giving us our stickers which identified us as from the township "Concord," we gathered in the Heritage Homestead. Master Riley himself told us the rules and where the restrooms were and even entertained us with his flute.

Our group was dismissed but not before we heard for ourselves how loud a sound a discharged musket makes. Before the day was through, these were some of the hands-on demonstrations we tried:

  • Butter making
  • Feather Quill & Ink Calligraphy
  • Weaving
  • Victorian Etiquette
  • Militia Training & Battling the British
  • Attending a Law Trial

Of the demonstrations, the "Battle Against the British" and the "Trial of Julius the Smuggler" was probably everyone's favorite judging from their laughter and their grins.

Poor unsuspecting Julius Premdas didn't know what hit him when he entered the tent.

Even though it was hyperbole, it was a good demonstration of how unfair the trial system was under the British. A judge decided everything in the court. He alone interpreted the letter of the law, decided the verdict and also passed the sentence.

But our trial had a twist in it. Julius' accusers had no idea their luck was about to change on a whim of the judge. They couldn't have foreseen the outcome at the end.See their reaction in the next video clip.

Following a short lunch break when all visitors were served a "ration" of cornbread, cheese, a glass of lemonade and a slice of jerky, we were all gathered at Heritage Homestead once again.

Saving the best for after lunch and also for the last, our hosts organized us into Americans and Brits.

Our group organized into 3 rows was charged with defending the homestead armed with muskets.

We were methodically taught how to load, fire and re-load quickly and to fight as a unit.

Watch the pandemonium erupt in this battlefield video.

Riley's Farm was a very educational field trip in my opinion. Every character we came across stayed in character, spoke the Queens' English and gave us all a sense of what life was about in the colonies in the 18th century.

Their costumes down to their battle re-enactments were extremely well done. As a parent chaperoning this field trip, I enjoyed it immensely and dare I say it? I learned a lot!

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All images,story and videos © Peter Phun 2007.To learn more about Peter