Fop Fest is a fun nickname for events held by a group of very serious people — people who are serious about portraying the 18th century, who are nutty about 18th century clothing and appearances, AND, who go beyond into song, dance, food, culture and lifestyle!
Fop Fest is an idea and not necessarily an association. Most people who enter the Fop Fest fold are members of various groups that reenact 18th century living history. Fop Fest occurs when these people gather to celebrate genteel civilian clothing of the 18th century.
A Fop Fest event can be as small as a whist and wine gathering or as large as a great promenade of living historians. Fop Fest is just a name, given to events where a fun civilian focus briefly holds sway over the military impressions in which we normally participate. Participants are all members of the North American living history movement which primarily concerns itself with military impressions of the American Revolution and the Seven Years War in America.
Our Fop Fest idea was born out of an annual event hosted by the Ladies of the King’s Royal Yorkers. Normally, they adhere to strict dress standards representing lower middle class loyalist refugees at living history events; however, the group decided that once a year they would put away linen and put on silk. There is no limit to how fancy one can get as long as the gown and accessories are of a fashion and construction accurate to 1768-1782. The event was called Polly Johnson Day in honour of the wife of the Sir John Johnson, the King’s Royal Yorker’s Colonel. Lady Mary (Polly) Watts Johnson was a well-known belle of New York society.
This little celebration, Polly Johnson Day, went on for years while a few of the gentlemen (who normally portray the officers and private soldiers of various regiments of the time period) stood by jealously. Many of us wished to take a break from the drills and battles to enjoy a brief slice of the life of the gentry in the 18th century. As a result of this desire, Fop Fest was born in 1998. Fop Fest I (held at Quebec 1998) had most of us working for months on secret costume projects for the big event. Some of us went all out with ultra-accurate serious portrayals, such as Christian Cameron complete with his 200 year old pocket watch. While others, like the great Elizabeth McAnulty went for -ummmm – well sort of sillier foppish stuff. The whole thing was loads of fun as you will soon see.