The air was thick with apprehension on the morning of July 15. Students had been anticipating Exeter’s Independence Festival ever since the uneasiness of letting the Fourth of July pass uncelebrated. Arizonian Aiselyn Anaya rose early to get dressed in all red, white, and blue, the outfit she had prepared for the one day a year Americans set aside their differences in favor of national pride. It was eleven days since the 4th of July, the 16-year-old said solemnly. “It’s time.”
There was one potential adversary to the day’s plans: the weather. The previous week had seen record-low temperatures on the normally sizzling campus. Students held on to their umbrellas and bought sweatshirts from the bookstore, almost emptying out the stock by Saturday. But in what seemed to be a patriotic miracle, the clouds cleared out of the sky by noon, leaving everyone free to sport their American apparel and stroll up and down the main streets of Exeter unruffled.
The first booth of the festivities was the sword maker’s. Handmade shields and weapons of a variety of materials and colors attracted many bystanders, who oohed and ahed over the collection. Syl Gibson, a 15-year-old student from San Francisco, had a different motive for going to the stall. “Do you want to fight? I’ll fence you,” the native Brit joked to an American student. It seems the losing team still holds a grudge against the winners of the Revolutionary War.
From there a variety of local businesses sold custom-made items such as jewelry, which thrifty students examined with care. A Girl Scout booth encouraged young girls to participate in the community and lured visitors to their tent using a plate of Girl Scouts cookies.
Both the tents for New Hampshire Republicans and Democrats engaged politically- and intellectually-active students, who gathered stickers and pamphlets proclaiming their beliefs. Aiselyn took the opportunity to meet and question senatorial candidate Jon Morgan about his stances, discussing issues such as gun control and experiences such as her involvement in the political activism group Our Revolution.
But as much as young adults care about their government, the issue of food is far more pressing. Groups of friends navigated the stalls, finding ice cream, hand-squeezed lemonade, coffee, wood-fired pizza, and other seemingly-endless options.
“It doesn’t get better than this,” said Alabamian Veronika Knox, who helped herself to ____.
During the festival, a lot of the day had antiqued cannons in action. The small town of Exeter gathered by the river to see the cannons shoot in a reenactment. Real cannons that were used during the summer of 1776, were used at the festival. Various people were frightened by the loud bangs, but it was a real treat.
The reenactment itself was pleasant to see. Men, women, and children were dressed as if they were really in 1776. A man dressed as George Washington walked around the ice cream shop, but his presence was very authentic to the event.
Not only were the Red Coats there, the lovable home team America was there. Both sides of the Revolutionary War were involved in the festival. The Americans were marching in a orderly fashion with a drummer to lead the way, giving spectators an ideal feeling of how it felt to be in 1776. Most were dressed in blue and carried authentic muskets, and others were dressed as normal colonist during the time.
To cap off the great festival, the townsmen lightened up the sky with beautiful fireworks, leaving a huddled crowd in awe.