Normally when you enter the campground at Hills Creek State Park, you'll see an RV or a dome tent waiting for campers.
That wasn't the case on the weekend of Aug. 11-12 at site No. 1.
Instead, a large canvas tent was swept open to reveal a wooden-framed bed draped with a quilt inside. Under its canvas canopy was a full kitchen, equipped with a hutch, table, chairs and iron cookware.
Those are just a few things that Mel "Longknife" Stafford, of Middlebury Center, was displaying for campers and park visitors that day.
Stafford demonstrates what life was like in the 1700s, showing items and daily activities of those who lived in that time. Visitors were able to come and go during the day.
He welcomed everyone to gather around a blanket he had on the ground, scattered with various items. He would pick them up and pose the question: "Does anyone know what this is and what it was used for?"
He likes to engage the audience into thinking about what some of the items, rarely seen by his audience, were used for in that time period.
Stafford added interesting facts about even mundane items, such as shoes. Back then, a person would go to a shoe maker, pick out one shoe and then buckles would be added to it. The direction of the buckles would determine which shoe would fit the right foot, and the other the left.
A block of tea, just like the one that was thrown into the Boston Harbor, contained foreign writing and very clearly intrigued his audience.
Stafford and his family add to the 1700-era scenery, from their dress to their activities. He and his wife, Darlene "Manyhands," have done historical displays throughout Pennsylvania and New York state.
"We put out a lot of different items used during that time frame. Sometimes my wife will do spinning with a wheel," he said, or make cordage for clothing.
The clothing Stafford wears is handmade and represents the time period he is portraying.
"One day I will be dressed as a 1700s mountain man and the next time I may be dressed up like George Washington," he said.
On Aug. 11, Stafford was dressed as a mountain man, wearing a long shirt, a belt with many handmade tools, over-the-calf boots and a felt, semi-wide brim hat.
"I also wear the Iroquois moccasins and leather linens. When mountain men came to this area, they traded with the Indians and started to adopt Indian clothing," he said.
His nickname "Longknife" comes from the name the American Indians of the region gave to the men who came here.
"The historical name is because they carried long knifes instead of flat (ones)," he said.
Stafford also belongs to a historical trekking club that holds rendezvous in the woods. The club members camp for day, using only what gear they can carry - and only gear from the 1700s.
"We use long rifles and flintlocks. We live off the food of the land," he said.
A lot of what is seen at Stafford's encampment is handmade.
"I do blacksmithing. I have a 1800s blacksmith shop. Nothing is electric; everything is hand-operated," he said.
He said sometimes he goes to museums, takes photos and comes home to reproduce what he saw.
Teaching what it was like when life was a lot more simple is important to Stafford.
"People have no idea today what people used then and, to think, it's entirely different from now. It was a harder time for living, and actually simpler. You don't have the complexity of all the things we have today," he said.
Back then, children didn't have computers or televisions.
"They had to learn to have fun on their own," he said.
Stafford started his historical hobby after a friend was doing rendezvous and reenactments. He became interested and studied the history of the timeframe and then began blacksmithing, which helped him build his own equipment and even furniture for his camp.
His family settled in Pennsylvania on his mother's side in the 1700s and was one of the first families in the Westfield area in Potter County.
His father's family came and began doing logging work around the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. They then became farmers.
Stafford also carries on his family's tradition of becoming a blacksmith, something he said his grandfather and father did.
"I used to hang out with my grandfather and I learned old-style blacksmithing," he said.
Stafford likes to include his audience in the dressing experience.
"When I see some parents walk by and kind of briefly look over the stuff and they have kids, I will tell them to take out their cameras and I will ask them to put on some mountain man clothes," he said, and take their pictures.
He did just that at Hills Creek.
The Rockwell family - Rylee, Brian, Jessica and Alyssa - dressed up with period clothing as family took their pictures.
Although the hat was a little big for Alyssa, the family smiled for their photo-ops.