STEUBENVILLE - The buckskin clad man examined the animal pelts hanging from a pole and nodded his approval.
Daniel Fox could have been a trapper standing at a campground in the 18th century Ohio frontier.
But the Monroe County resident was portraying a, "long hunter" during Ohio Valley Frontier Days at the Historic Fort Steuben.
CANING A CHAIR — Dorothy Wells of Steubenville learned the art of caning a chair approximately 30 years ago when she inheited a worn cane chair from her grandmother. She is sharing her skill today in the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center during Ohio Valley Frontier Days.
"These are coyote skins caught and skinned in this area. Much like they might have been trapped and skinned here 200 years ago," Fox explained.
"This is a very nice and, at the same time, educational event. It allows people to see what life was like on the frontier in a different time," Fox said.
He was one of several people portraying the past life when the city was just a rough fort housing soldiers sent to the frontier to protect surveyors mapping the Ohio lands.
Nearby Native Americans portraying their ancestors had set up a camp and told stories to visitors.
The Ohio Valley Frontier Days will continue today from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Historic Fort Steuben on South Third Street.
Bob Huber of Gibsonia, Pa., returned to this year's two-day Ohio Valley Frontier Days to demonstrate the art of bucket making or "coopering."
"I only make wooden buckets because I can do that by myself. It takes three people to make a barrel and it is harder work," Huber explained to visitors stopping at his table.
"I make a living selling machinery to steel mills. About 15 years ago, I was watching a guy do this and got interested in this. I have bought a few tools from different sources including the Rogers sale. Some of these older tools were probably hanging on someone's wall and it ended up at a sale. They may look old, but they still work," explained Huber.
Nearby, the smoke from the blacksmith shop curled up to the sky when Blacksmith John Boilegh pushed a piece of iron into the hot coal flames.
"I am making a couple 'S' hooks for someone. So I am heating the iron and drawing it out with my hammer. When I get it to the right point I will start shaping it," he said.
Inside the Visitors Center, several women were sewing the pieces of a quilt together while Dorothy Wells carefully repaired a cane chair.
"It takes patience and precise work to do this," Wells said.
"I picked this up when I inherited a cane chair from my grandmother. It needed some work so I started fixing that chair about 30 years ago. It is hard work and I don't do this on a regular basis. But I like to share the skill with others who stop by," said Wells.
Bill Schilling, with Marcy Tudor and Lynn McLeish ,will return to the Visitors Center to play traditional and folk tunes on the dulcimer, mandolin, ukulele, autoharp, recorder, jug and more.
"Frontier skills and games will be part of today's activities. Guests can try their hand at tossing the tomahawk or making hand built pottery. Boy Scout Troop 47 will be assisting with the Tomahawk Toss and Corn Hole games," Historic Fort Steuben Executive Director Judy Bratten said.
Bratten said tour guides will be available today to explain the history of the fort, the First Federal Land Office and life on the Ohio Frontier.
"Young archaeologists can inspect the dig currently being excavated by Franciscan University of Steubenville staff and students," Bratten remarked.
"No festival would be complete without the sweet and salty taste of Happy Hour Kettle Corn made on site and available in large and small bags. Visitors can cool off with the delicious flavors of Janet's Gelato," stated Bratten.
Admission for today is is $3 for adults, $1 for youth six to 12 years of age, and free for those under six.
Parking in lots and on the street is free all around the area on the weekend.
"This is a great family event that also teaches all of us about the early days of this community and Ohio," Bratten said.