SALISBURY — “Ich bin ein Berliner,” would have been just as effective a statement on Saturday as when President John F. Kennedy uttered those same words in 1963 in West Berlin.

This weekend everyone was a little German at the annual GermanFest at the fully restored Old Stone House. The weekend gives visitors the opportunity to experience German and German immigrant history first-hand through re-enactors and protesters, and to tour the restored house and garden. The house was built by Michael Braun, an 18th-century German immigrant who, with his newfound prosperity, completed construction in 1766 of what was then a large plantation.

Saturday, a clear, sunny, slightly windy day lifted the smell of wood smoke and a bit of apple butter bubbling on that wind across the field to the parking lot, which for most of the day was full .

“I am considered a backcountry surgeon because I use herbs, whereas a city surgeon uses pills, which are hard to get at the moment because of the British blockade of our imports,” he said. explained Bob Cook to a group of delighted spectators. A math teacher from Monday to Friday, Cook was the Saturday surgeon who regaled visitors with explanations of how various ailments would be treated. In the 1700s, there was still a “humoral” approach to medicine, but there was nothing funny about it. It was the belief that diseases had natural rather than supernatural causes and that bodily fluids were the determining factor in diseases.

For example, a red humor meant that we had too much blood.

“Which meant bloodshed,” Cook said. For the men, a thin knife was used to open a blood vessel “in muscle areas of the arm or leg, as some places would have been too difficult to control blood loss,” he noted. For women, leeches were used “because, vanity, you know, no scars”. A surgeon would take no more than two pints of blood from a patient in a week.

He also explained the use of many herbs, cloves for toothache and white birch bark for pain. Ipecac powder, used to induce vomiting when needed, was hard to get because it only came from Africa and those English ships were always blocking deliveries, so Cook said he would have given patients glitches apples, which contain both arsenic and cyanide – but were a substitute to induce vomiting. They just had other side effects that weren’t clear yet.

Cook said he became interested in attending events when he would go as a young man with his mother to help organize his own attendance. Over the years he developed an interest in surgery in the 18th century, read and spoke extensively with real surgeons, and was delighted when people approach him these days and ask if he is a real surgeon.

Kendall Pressley, who brought two-year-old Theo Butsch to the event “just to check out,” said she was having fun with her family. His stepfather, Lee Madden, has been a militia re-enactor for years, which led him to participate in Saturday’s event as a sheep and potato farmer who was also a member of the militia. He had both a rifle and a shotgun on display which he allegedly used for different purposes. The shotgun would be good for shorter ranges, hunting included, while the rifle would be what he would have taken in battle.

“You can’t attach a bayonet to it,” he said. “That’s why you hear the militia got away. When the British attached bayonets to their rifles, we couldn’t fight that. He explained one military tactic that worked, however. Revolutionary War soldiers would set up in layers when the terrain permitted, having a first row of militiamen who would fire and then fall back, and a second row would then fire at the advancing British, drawing them forward. The third layer would be a horseshoe formation that would surround the British as they were driven forward by the first two rows of militia.

Bethany Graybill and a team of actors demonstrated what a military camp kitchen would have looked like, with a cauldron of bubbling apple cider, rendered so apples could be added and cooked, then sugar for the last hour of constant stirring , to make homemade apple butter. Meanwhile, Diane Dworek was kneading dough to make pretzels, but without the lye used hundreds of years ago.

Vince McHenry, who along with his wife Ruth is a woodcarver and said his organization, Triad Woodcarvers, was approached to participate by Randy Lassiter.

Lassiter is the director of GermanFest, although he has “not a drop of German blood”. His love of Rowan County, including his German heritage, means he is determined to make sure the community knows its own origins. He praised the garden behind the old stone house, the grounds and the house itself for its resilience and strength.

“I mean, look at it,” he said. “Always perfectly straight, in incredible shape. They knew what they were doing,” he said, “very happy to see how busy we were, how many people came” and how many different participants there was to show all the different aspects of life so long ago.

Netra Bollinger of Rockwell, now retired, has been making baskets since childhood and is also adept at recanning chairs. She said it takes her “a few hours” to make a basket, she is so skilled and she also makes new chair seats in her “everyday” life.

“I made the one here with fabric instead of wood because if the fabric starts to sag, just untie the knot and pull it tight, then retie it,” she said.

Each participant in the event was incredibly knowledgeable in their field, and visitors often stood on their feet, listening intently to the information provided, woven into stories. Re-enactors take the life they created at events like GermanFest, which makes people feel like they’ve really stepped back in time.

Even if it meant scratching a pig’s belly or a kid’s head, it was all part of the way Revolutionary War farmers and soldiers lived.