Attending a Re-enactment (As a Spectator)

This coming weekend is the Civil War Re-enactment at Tom’s Farm in Corona, California. Here’s a link for more event info. By the way, “McGuire Home, Winchester, Virginia,” Living History Group is NOT encamping at this event.

A Military Camp at a Re-enactment

A Military Camp at a Re-enactment

Anyway, as I prepare to go on a research trip at this event, I thought I’d share my “packing” list and tips for attending a re-enactment as a spectator. (Now the packing list for when I go as a re-enactor looks very different – maybe I’ll share some of that next month…)

Here’s what I stuff in my trusty backpack when I’m doing a research trip at an event:

  • Water, Water, Water (it’s cheaper to carry it than buy it, believe me)
  • Lunch – I prefer peanut butter sandwich, apple, carrots, and a cookie or two (eating the carrots is optional…sometimes you should share with a horse, if the cavalryman gives permission)
  • Snack – never know how late you’re staying
  • Blanket or Towel – this is much nicer to sit on if you manage to get a “front row seat” at the battle or band concert
  • 1 or 2 Research Books (I usually take the ones with maps of the topics I’m exploring; it can be helpful for very in-depth discussions)
  • Camera – I usually take at least 50 photos during a battle and get only 1 or 2 good pictures (I either need a better camera, more skill, or those guys need to stop moving so quickly) One of the best photos from last year is at the end of this post.
  • Notepad – I usually carry this in my hand; I prefer a small size with a hard “backboard”  Warning: if you choose to carry a notepad, be prepared for the “are you a reporter?” questions
  • Pens – have to have something to write with…and carry at least two
  • Event Schedule – I like to plan what I’m going to see and do throughout the whole day
  • Wallet – never know when you’re gonna find the book you need for research or the perfect gift at the sutlers’ tents (And sometimes it costs to attend the event!)
  • Cellphone – just in case you need to call 911 because a cannon started a fire (yes, I’ve seen it happen)

Other things you should not forget:

  • Directions – how to get to the event (it’s no fun to get lost and know that you’re missing the artillery demonstration that you really wanted to see)
  • Coffee or Tea – optional, but nice to have on the drive
  • Favorite CD – optional, but generally more encouraging than the radio news
  • Gallon of water – this is to wash the front and back windows when you’re ready to head home. Parking is often a dirt field and you may need to wash away the archaeological layers before leaving.

My simple advice for attending an event as a spectator is “You’re here to learn, not teach; so listen, and learn something new. Ask questions and don’t be a know-it-all.”

Happy learning adventures! See you in the field?

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Don’t forget to check the introduction to Civil War Shenandoah 1864. This coming Friday we’ll start the military campaign details. Leave a comment if you’re looking forward to this month’s topic…or if you’ve thought of something that’s not on my packing list!

Here's one of the best photos from last year (2013). Check back next week for my best photos of the 2014 Tom's Farm Civil War Re-enactment!

Here’s one of the best photos from last year (2013).



3 thoughts on “Attending a Re-enactment (As a Spectator)

  1. Pingback: The Valley Is Lost and Won – 1864 | Gazette665

  2. I thought of something I forgot…my wristwatch. I like to know what time it is, so I don’t miss an important opportunity – like the cavalry tactic demonstration. Did I mention I’m researching some cavalry units on this trip? Wish me luck. 🙂

  3. Pingback: 1862: “Too Much Scattered” | Gazette665

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