American Independence Festival

Children try out a camp muster during the American Independence Festival in Exeter.

EXETER — Several thousand visitors are expected to descend on downtown Exeter on Saturday to see what life was like during the Revolutionary War, when this corner of the Granite State was the seat of state government.

“This is a unique opportunity to participate in a recreation of a seminal point in our state’s and nation’s history,” said American Independence Museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “(The festival) educates, entertains and, we hope, inspires others to learn more about our nation’s history and its continued importance today.”

The 29th annual American Independence Festival will feature music, the Washington Parade at 1 p.m. on Water Street, a battle reenactment at 2 p.m. in Swasey Parkway, a traditional artisan working village, food and an arts and crafts fair. In all, there will be more than 100 reenactors, 20 artisans and 40 vendors on site.

A highlight will be the 11 a.m. arrival of a copy of the Declaration of Independence arrive via horseback, as was done on July 16, 1776, following the country’s birth. It will be read aloud by Greg Gilman, a descendent of John Taylor Gilman, who originally shared the Declaration of Independence with townspeople.

Exeter’s history is highlighted in part by the Gilman family, prosperous Exeter merchants who became inextricably linked to the nation’s fight for independence. The museum, a National Landmark Property, chronicles this history.

Beer inspired by the Colonial era and brewed by Cisco Brewers will be served at Folsom Tavern from noon to 6 p.m.

Tickets for the festival, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 18, and free for children under 6. For information, visit