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Medfield Day captures patrons – and history

A crew of smiling redcoats rounds up some Colonial patriots along North Street.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

From a bust of Boston Symphony Orchestra composer Charles Martin Loeffler to stand-up cutouts for people to take their picture with outside of the Dwight Derby House, history was on display at this year’s Discover Medfield Day. But while a historic pandemic cancelled the event last year, the 41st version of it added some interesting things that harken back to the town’s past.

The Dwight Derby house had some cardboard cutouts for people to take pictures with.

While the day featured the classic, festive Medfield Day fare it always does - like kids rides and over 150 booths highlighting Medfield’s businesses and organizations - the most notable of goings-on was entirely new.

At eleven o’clock, a drum-wielding Dick Judge and a band of British redcoats on horseback descended on the assembled North Street crowd in search of Colonial patriots, who they deemed rebels. One man in a New England Patriots jersey was an especially obvious choice to be given a tricornered hat and tied up, as a large crowd gathered to observe the happenings. Once the traitors were apprehended, they were marched down a back alley and brought to a jail outside the Dwight Derby House.

The Colonials were eventually hauled off to a makeshift jail outside the Dwight Derby House.

According to Judge, the official backstory is that the British soldiers went by the Clark Tavern, but realized it was taken down - so they decided to head to Medfield Day and round up some American patriots. The reason for the backstory is because, as Judge wanted to make clear, the day’s festivities weren’t based on any real event.     

“This is completely made up, but when people ask how much history is involved here, I tell them plenty. It could have happened in Medfield, since Medfield sent plenty of soldiers to fight the Revolutionary War. The town also housed Nathan Hale, and George Washington stationed a lot of people in Medfield to prevent the British from marching from Boston down to New York.”

Covid fears didn’t seem to be keeping the crowds away, a year after having to cancel the event because of the virus.

Judge noted that there was a bit of pushback in the Medfield historical community because the events of the day were not something that actually happened in town - but that the issue was quickly overcome by a desire to have some fun when he noted: “Well, Alexander Hamilton never rapped. As far as we know.”

The booths along Frairy Street reflected nicely off the water.

While there are some groups in Massachusetts that try to be as time-period-correct as possible, Judge noted this was a more grassroots effort that required more creativity in the creation of costumes and muskets. Similarly, he admitted he has no formal drumming skills to match an appropriate Colonial beat - he was just hitting it.

“I was able to accumulate the outfits, which are printed sweatshirts, and put together some other implements out of plumbing supplies. So, it’s a grassroots effort. One of the guys who runs the National Guard lives in Medfield, Matt Johnson, and he was able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and get his garrison of his horses here to ride through Medfield and arrest patriots.”

The Medfield Historical Society shows off its bust of Charles Martin.

There was only one round of rounding up of Patriots on the day, with the loyalist captors posing for photos and letting kids pet their horses for a while after. But while it caused a commotion, Judge explained the stunt was really about making sure Medfield citizens know how important the town was in American history. 

“Saving history is so necessary, especially because of the huge part Medfield played in American history. A lot of people don’t know Nathan Hale’s part in this. He was stationed here but later on became a spy for Washington, and was caught and was hanged. He was the one who said 'I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.' He stayed in Medfield, so Medfield's’ steeped in history. 'Mary had a Little Lamb' was written here. So Medfield goes way, way back - and the further you go back, the more interesting it gets. This was basically a kickoff for people to remember Medfield played a vital part in the freedoms we have today.”

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