Re: [WarOf1812] Too many events
----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Fournier
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 6:11 PM
Subject: [WarOf1812] Re: Ft. Niagara/too many events
However something about this string had struck me ... when we, as re-
enactors go to an event, who are we doing it for?
Is it strictly for ourselves?
Is it for the site?
Is it for the public?
I think it may be a little bit of "all of the above".
I've been following this thread with interest since the home of small 1812 events is here in the Chesapeake. Generally we draw 20-25 re-enactors or less to our events which currently number 8-10 a year. Sometimes we have a skirmish or two; most of the time we have musket/cannon demonstrations or simply talk to the public.
However, as the bi-centennial nears, interest in 1812 era sites and events is growing. Local tourism has awoken to the fact that the war was an integral part of their history and that by having an event; it may engender further interest and even more tourism which in turn helps the economy.
As an example, our unit attended a local festival in Cambridge on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore on Saturday. (We were asked to be there to promote the War of 1812.) One of the persons that I spoke to is working on the 350th Anniversary of Vienna, Maryland and wants us to participate. During our conversation, he told me that the British had paid a visit during the war, firing on the town; a fact that I had not known and will certainly add to my Chesapeake actions list. In addition, this summer I have been contacted by Queenstown in Maryland (July 1813) and Kinsale in Virginia (April 1813, Aug 1814, Oct 1814) to participate in 1812 events in the future.
We have been going to Canada for many years to participate in large(r) events. Quite truthfully, we come for two reasons: one; the camaraderie that exists among the British units we have worked with and two; it's the only way we get to practice battalion drills since we are the sole British force in the Mid-Atlantic. The 8-10 hour drive is worth it, so much so, that I feel our enthusiastic endorsement of past events convinced several other Chesapeake based units to make the trip to the Grand Tactical this year. I only wish we could do it more often.
Tom Fournier brought up a good point: Why do we do this and who do we do it for?
Is it for ourselves? Let's face it; most of us get into this hobby due to our love or interest of history. As Living Historians, we choose to expand this leisure pursuit into an emotional roller coaster, attempting to put life into what others have only read (maybe) in their school history books or more likely saw in some docudrama on TV. Our lives are transformed; we live and breathe to go to events; we wear wool in summer and then stand in the heat waiting to spew out flames at our friendly enemy across the field. No one threatens us with the lash for not obeying an order; we have no fear of our names being read aloud in the village church; we worry more that we are not successfully honouring those units that we attempt to imitate. We are exasperated by minutia in getting our kit correct.
Is it for the site? We would have no place to play if it wasn't for our sites. Big or small, they are both our blessing and our curse. The blessing is obvious; the curse is that they all want us to be there at their event according to their schedule which generally conflicts with someone else's. How to alleviate that problem is what we need to look at.
For the Bicentennial, hopefully Commissions from both Canada and the US will meet to study this issue and come to a consensus. Due to the many facets and venues presented by the War, some bicentennial events may occur on the same weekend such as York and Frenchtown in April 2013 or Plattsburgh, Baltimore, Ft. Bowyer and Ft. Erie in September 2014!
Should sites be made to hold their events on their anniversaries? As has been discussed, the capture of Ft. Niagara occurred in December but the site is holding its event in August for the benefit of both re-enactor and public; the events at St Leonard's Creek (Jefferson-Patterson) occurred in June (think of Ft George with higher humidity!) but are commemorated in September for the same reason. At least St. Mary's, Georgia is asking us to come down in January. We have seven years to come up wit a resolution.
Is it for the Public? Of course it is! When at a site we become employees/volunteers for that site. We are the site's contact with the public and as such need to treat them with the courtesies due any visitor and be prepared to respond to their questions no matter how inane. I've always held the belief that if I can get through to at least one person and dissolve some myth and that person walks away with a better knowledge about our period, then I've had a successful event.
To sum it up, somehow the thought of putting together a kit and standing in my front yard annoying my neighbors just doesn't seem worth the effort. I'd rather be at an 1812 site talking to the public and trying to make a difference.
Thanks for letting me rant.
Ed Seufert, Cpl
1812 Royal Marines
The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...
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