COVINGTON — Covington’s annual Fort Rowdy celebration allows local citizens to take a step back in time and experience life from the pioneer’s perspective.
“It’s enjoyable to camp the way our ancestors did, to learn what they had to go through to survive,” Pastor Carl Ward of the Calvary Baptist Church in Piqua said.
Ward has done rendezvous similar to Fort Rowdy for more than 15 years, and has been part of the festivities at Fort Rowdy for over seven years now. This year marks his sixth year as camp chaplain, in which he opens camp meetings with prayer and leads the Sunday morning service for campers participating in the festival. This year, he opened the ceremonies on the civilian side of the festival.
The campgrounds are accessible by crossing over a wooden bridge constructed specifically for the festival. Merchants in period dress have tents set up alongside camping tents, and people dressed in both pioneer garb and twenty-first century fashion mingle, trade, and buy goods.
Dawn Lowman of Springfield has been selling hand-made clothes and other goods out of her tent at Fort Rowdy for 19 years now. Initially invited by a friend to come out and participate in the festivities, Lowman continues to return to the festival year after year because of the people, and the strong community within the festival.
“It’s like living in a different world when you do these kind of events,” Lowman said. “Everybody is super friendly and helpful.”
Across the bridge on the civilian side of camp sits a shelter housing information from the Fort Rowdy Museum, including newspaper clippings dating as far back as 1883. This is thanks in large part to Dixie Harnish, who is vice president of the Covington-Newberry Historical Society. Like many others, she finds great enjoyment in Fort Rowdy because of the people.
“I get to mingle with the people in here, and when I see them in the yard they speak to me with no problem,” Harnish said.
The two-day gathering has been going on for 25 years now, and for many like Ward, the beauty of the gathering is in the simplicity of it all.
“This is the way life should be lived. It takes a lot of history learning to even camp because you have to do things the way that they did. There are no shortcuts. You don’t see us cooking over propane or using electricity,” Ward said. “It’s fun to come out and do, but when you get home it’s like, ‘ah, I’m home,’ and it makes you enjoy what you have at your home life even better.”