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.
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?
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!