Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Small Events Need Your Help!

We're at the time of year that I wait for - - - been waiting since the end of the Christmas holiday season. Yes, and the warmer weather has everything to do with it! You know what I am talking about - the reenacting season! So a good portion of my posts this summer will be oriented toward that ultimate of hobbies (if you hadn't noticed!).

I've done three events so far since April. I would've done more if it wasn't so rainy.
But, this is only the beginning. There are many more events to come between now and the end of the year.
I am asked frequently about how do I have the time to do so many events. I suppose my answer would have to be...I just make time. There are a number of reenactments that take place over a full weekend, but in some cases we may attend
only one of the two days and leave the open day for working around the yard, shopping, or whatever needs to be done..
In this way, one can cover everything.
One of my complaints, however, about reenactors is that too many only attend the BIG events; you know, the ones where everyone from all units show up as a sort of gathering of the tribes, so to speak. I love these events, by the way, as much as anyone. In fact, one of our biggest of the year is coming up at the end of this month - Greenfield Village.
But, I wonder why so few who join in this time-travel hobby hardly ever attend the smaller events that normally take place on off weekends.
What an opportunity to teach and to show the public our passion!

Yes, I know there is work to be done around the house and not having a major reenactment it a great excuse to stay home to do chores that need to be done. A fine reason. But, I find it funny when I hear of a reenactor use the excuse of: "I had to cut the grass" instead of attending a small event. Let's be honest, except for a few, most of us can get this chore done within 15 minutes any weekday evening.
I'd rather they be truthful and say that they just didn't feel like going.
This past Saturday a few of us took part in a Victorian festival held in the historic village of Romeo, Michigan. Is it a farby festival? Yes, absolutely! Well, not us as reenactors, per se', but much of our immediate surroundings were definitely 21st century - one can see that just by glancing at the pictures posted here, with the modern cars, etc., parked all around. Most who participate in this particular festival are not reenactors and will wear high school play-type costumes that are about as authentic to history as a steam punk convention.
In other words, very little that can be called accurate.
But, everyone had fun, and having the historic structures in Romeo as the backdrop helped greatly.
And we who participate in living history joined in the fun as well. Many of the villagers came over to our camp and we had the opportunity to explain to them what it is we as reenactors do as well as speak on what life was like "back then."
The patrons were so receptive!! We were asked dozens of (mostly) intelligent questions, and a few folk even brought us some their original Civil War era artifacts and treasures - something they most likely would never do at a major event.

It was unfortunate that less than a dozen of us from the 21st Michigan (plus a couple from the 4th Michigan) showed up - which was better, I suppose, than the three (count 'em - 3!) that attended last year. Can you imagine if thirty or forty (or more) of the over hundred membership between the two units I belong to (21st Michigan and the MSAS) would have participated? How cool would that have been to have (and for visitors to see) dozens of accurately dressed Victorians roaming the streets of this historical Village! We could have taken over the town!
This has always befuddled me - why is it so hard to get reenactors to participate in a smaller more intimate event?
Well, it's up to them, I guess. Me? To be honest, one of my very favorite events every year is a small living history event where we can portray life as it was in a very authentic manner, and yet very few living historians ever show.
It's their loss...

By the way, do you see the linen frock coat I am wearing in this photograph? My wife made it for me for my birthday. Soon she will have my trousers done as well. Am I excited? You betcha! A wonderful birthday gift!



Robert said...

Completely agreeable! by the way....I love the coat!

PvtSam75 said...

A fine present indeed!

And I must agree, many in my unit are quick to turn down smaller events, one in particular being a festival at a museum I volunteer at. It's to commemorate the day the Declaration of Independence reached Exeter, NH. There are many of us reenactors, a "battle", museum tours, etc., AND, we bring out our original copy of the document.
Anyway, while sitting in camp last year, one of the guys said "this is such a stupid event, why do we bother?" I was quote offended. No, it wasn't a huge event with hundreds of people and large-scale battles, but it means a lot to me, and the people of Exeter. We don't really celebrate July 4th there, because they wouldn't have known about the Declaration until later. It's smalle events like that that really matter, and they should definitely be remembered when planning out one's schedule for the season.

On a different note, we had out first encampment of the season this weekend, and we actually saw the sun on Saturday! It does exist!

Historical Ken said...

PVT Sam - That's exactly the attitude that I'm talking about. How sad...
Thanks for writing.
And thank you Robert!

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Your wife is quite a talented seamstress!

It's too bad a lot of reenactors don't take it as seriously as you do. They might only be in it for the glory or as just another hobby, but you're in it for the opportunity to spread your knowledge and love of history to others. Good for you. Maybe if the others would read your blog, a light bulb would go off over their heads and they'd get it! Maybe you should hand out calling cards at these events with your blog URL!:-)


Historical Ken said...

Thanks Pam. I appreciate the compliment.A calling card with my blog...hmmm...