Opening Fort Mackinac Posted May 5, 2023 Historic interpreters learning to march during training at Fort Mackinac. Every year tens of thousands of guests will visit Fort Mackinac and experience the sights and sounds of the fort, from its beautiful views of the harbor and village below to the sounds of rifle and cannon firing demonstrations and the presence of the historical interpreters. Each year these interpreters bring something a little different, not just in their charm or style but sometimes by the way they approach the great history of Fort Mackinac. This year is no different. Our interpretative staff has been hard at work these last few weeks learning not only the classic programs of Fort Mackinac but a few new programs too. Training with Springfield 45-70 Rifles. Before their arrival on Mackinac Island, the interpreters spend many hours reading from various sources to learn the history of Fort Mackinac. Once they arrive, they immediately set to work, using this knowledge in training and practice sessions before working in front of the public. They spend many hours getting acquainted with the Springfield 45-70 Rifle, the focus of our rifle demonstrations, and its importance in the U.S. Army’s evolution to a much more modern military in the late 19th century. They will also spend a few hours marching and drilling on the parade ground, just as the soldiers of the 1880s would have, making sure they can replicate these maneuvers for the many guests participating in our Rifle and Drill Program every afternoon. Learning how to load and fire the iconic Fort Mackinac cannon. The interpreters will also learn how to present our cannon firing demonstrations, speaking to the cannon’s ceremonial role at Fort Mackinac, marking the beginning and end of the soldier’s day. These “salute shots” were also fired for holidays like Memorial Day – known then as Decoration Day – and the Fourth of July. Interpreters will also spend the necessary time learning how to safely load and fire the cannon for our demonstrations, which is a high point for any interpreter, whether new or returning. The interpreters will spend even more time going through our many walking tours and programs, ensuring they can present these programs engagingly and accurately. This is especially important with our new programs, like the Soldier’s Equipment and Quartermaster Storehouse program and, later this season, the Dress Parade Program and Evenings at Fort Mackinac walking tour. A peek behind the scenes – being a Fort Mackinac interpreter isn’t just work at the fort. For all the time the interpreters spend out in the fort practicing, they spend double the time inside, reading and studying material and learning the best practices of historical interpretation. All of this is done to provide our guests with the best possible experience with the hope that they feel comfortable and engaged and walk away with a feeling that their time at Fort Mackinac, as with any of our sites, was worth it. Public interpretation can lead to a lifetime interest in history and the world. We hope you will be able to join us this year and experience the many programs with offer. Click here to learn about tickets.