EXETER -- It looked a bit like Colonial America on Saturday as the American Independence Museum staff presented the 29th annual American Independence Festival.

The museum has one of only 26 remaining Dunlap Broadside copies of the Declaration of Independence and one of the event organizers, Victoria Su, said the document is a very big part of why the museum was created in the first place.

The document was delivered to the Ladd-Gilman house by horseback, exactly as it was in 1776. It was read by Greg Gilman, an ancestor of John Taylor Gilman who originally read the document to the people of Exeter in 1776.

"This document really is the reason the festival happens," said Su. "There were about 200 copies of the Dunlap Broadside printed and distributed throughout the colonies. The Declaration was signed on July 4, 1776 but we did not get our copy until July 16, and that's why we celebrate independence in the middle of the month. The document came with a note, saying we should burn it because it was treason. It was, going against the king, and many towns did burn it. Ours was hidden and rediscovered in 1985. Our festival was born and we became a museum."

One of highlights of the event each year is the Colonial Artisan Village, set up on the grounds of the Folsom Tavern and the Ladd-Gilman house. Visitors can see how people in the Colonies lived, from their medical care, to cooking and even how they did laundry.

Colonial figures strolled the grounds, offering small history lessons as they explained their role in the Revolutionary War.

"We have a new George Washington this year," said Su.

"Dressed in a fine gray wool suit, Norm Miner of Hopkington made for an elegant first president.

""I am a reenactor," said Miner. "My mission is to present living history. Actually, I think I feel like I belong in this time better."

"George Washington was strolling around with General John Stark.

When he is not portraying Stark, Richard Wright is a blacksmith.

"I think I was chosen to be John Stark because we have the same irascible disposition," said Wright. "As Stark, I was born in Londonderry, in a part that is now Derry, in 1728. I died in Manchester, having been the oldest living Revolutionary War general to remain. I commanded Rogers Rangers for a time. I mustered 900 men to fight at Bunker Hill."

Music filled the air as the Lincoln Minutemen played their fife and drums, and inside the Folsom Tavern, R.P. Hale showed off his specialty, dulcimers, harpsichords and clavichords, all constructed by, and played by Hale himself, accompanied by Sarah May Schultz, a recent graduate of Pembroke Academy.

"The harpsichord and the clavichord date back to the 14th century," said Hale. "The dulcimer is much older and it is still the national instrument of Iran."

One thing that draws people is the beer served in the Folsom Tavern. This year there was one change - no Independence Ale.

"Redhook Brewery made this beer for us using a historic recipe," said Su. "Since Redhook has been taken over by Cisco Brewery, the ale is in the midst of a licensing issue with the state. It's not a problem but it takes time. We expect that by next year, Independence Ale will make its return."

Instead, Cisco brought two of their most popular brews, Whale's Tail and Getaway IPA.

Revolutionary war encampments lined Swasey Parkway, with food trucks across the way, making for an interesting point of view.

A children's area showed interested kids how to muster, and then they were invited to take part in George Washington's parade down Water Street.

A war reenactment, cannon firings, a concert at the bandstand, another at Swasey Parkway, led up to day's finale, fireworks at 9 p.m.