Event Hosting Tips

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If your community or organization is looking into having a Civil War Reenactment or Living History here are some helpful tips.

First decide

what type of event you would like to have.  A Living History can be a one or two day event, but they are static in nature, there is no battle or skirmish.  Reenactors will setup camp with the idea that they will be displaying equipment, clothing and things that explain what happened during the Civil War.  A Civil War Reenactment is almost always a weekend event with battles or skirmishes on both Saturday and Sunday.

Then pick a date.

First and foremost please try to pick a date that doesn't conflict with another event in the area.  There are a limited number of reenactors in any giving geographical area.  Having two events on the same date causes an obvious conflict and neither event will end up well attended.  If possible try to avoid back to back week ends, a week end between events is great, it allows everyone a chance two recharge and take care of things in the 21st. century that keep cropping up.

Need a Host?

Most organizations who want to Sponsor a Civil War event work hand in hand with a Host Unit.  A Host Unit can help a Sponsoring organization with all the logistics involved in having a Civil War event, from advertising and organizing amenities to supplies and ground preparation.  Just about every Reenacting Unit has hosted an event at one time or another.  If you are interested in finding a host for your event please contact editor@haversackherald.com and we can put you in touch with groups who are interested in helping.

Time:

    Civil War reenacting is a labor of love.  It is labor intensive and sometimes expensive to attend events. Allowing Reenactors to set up Friday evening and depart at a reasonable hour Sunday afternoon is helpful.  Remember that we have to pack up all our gear, drive home, unpack and be ready for work Monday morning.  Some reenactors drive long distance to attend events, most of us would like to be breaking camp by 4:00 Sunday afternoon.

Amenities:

Most reenactors camp on site, although there are some that will attend and sleep in a modern camping vehicle.  On site campers need as a bare minimum:

  • Water - Clean potable water, conveniently located to the camps
  • Wood - Dry, split fire wood. The colder it is the more we need.
  • Sanitary facilities - Usually Port a Johns, with wash stations.  A percentage of them need to be of the handy capped type.  Female Reenactors in period dresses and hoop skirts have a difficult time in a regular size Port a John.  The facilities need to serviced Saturday morning and Sunday morning.  There also needs to be enough of them.  Not only for the expected  number of Reenactors, but also the expected number of public.
  • Straw - Many Reenactors use straw to sleep on and cover the gaps between the ground and the side of their tent.
  • Parking - Reasonably close vehicle parking. No one, the public or especially a reenactor wants to see a modern car in or next to a Civil War Camp.  Conversely, no one wants to walk a mile to get something out of their vehicle or to go to town to get supplies.  Also a place to park Campers for those reeanactors who use them is appreciated.
  • Security - Our hobby is very expensive. Modern reproductions of Civil War Equipment is very expensive.  And original equipment in many cases is irreplaceable, there for priceless.  Unfortunately the public has gotten sticky fingers the last few years, and at  several events, items have been stolen from camps and Sutlers during the battle or during the evening.  More and more we are looking to the Sponsoring organizations to provide security when the event dictates that reenactors are on the field and during the evening.

Under the heading of nice but not necessary.  But realizing that the more amenities provided, the more attractive it is for reeanactors to attend the following are always appreciated:

  • Meals - A meal is always appreciated, some events provide Saturday dinner or a Sunday morning breakfast.
  • Powder or Bounty - Reenacting is an expensive hobby.  Some events will provide black powder or cash to any group who registers in advance
  • Entertainment - Usually in the form of a Ball on Saturday evening.  A Ball will also add to the events that the public can attend and enjoy.  Some events will hire period musicians to play around the grounds during the day.
  • Showers - If arrangements can be made with a nearby school or park facilities can be made, a chance to clean up is always appreciated.

If you desire to have Artillery and Cavalry participating in your event you will be needing a substantial field to be holding your event on, we are talking acres here.  Also Artillery and Cavalry units are very expensive to operate.  A cash bounty for Cavalry units and cash or black powder for Artillery will insure that those units are interested in participating.

Cavalry Units also need to have the logistical support to maintain their animals.  A shady spot to stake them out during the day, handy fresh water and a supply of hay.   

© Chuck Martin 2013