One of my friends showed up at my door Sunday night. We have been doing reenactments and living history programs together for several years. He was in an awful hurry to leave when the event ended this year, when in the past he has stayed over until Monday before going home. The same problems he encountered this year, are the same ones I had last year, which is why I decided not to go. In fact, I had already made up my mind not to go this year when I was driving out of the event last year. Treat me badly once, and I am not doing it again.
On March 6th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Gee, Chris, are you sure that you aren't describing parts of the Dade Reenactments of twenty years ago? Dade always treated its reenactors very well, but some of those reenactors - like the one wearing a yellow nylon chiffon scarf around his neck? Or the beaded hat headband that spelled out LYNERD SKYNNER? Well, he had purchased it at the Tampa res, so technically it really was a Seminole artefact. Or the very serious young man at a Fort Foster telling people how dedicated he was to his heritage and how his outfit was 100% authentic to the 1840's, complete with the 20th century patchwork on his longshirt? If you wanted to make a political comment, you could go to a reenactment as an Australian aborigine and tell everybody that you lost the rest of your outfit in trade, - Rick O.
On March 9th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I could not be more in agreement with every point, Chris. At many sites, management is hard-pressed to "police" the reenactors, since they have a million things to do and even planning time is limited. So I am willing to be patient while events grow - up to a point. If people with demonstrable expertise and credentials are giving event managers input, and they (the managers) are resistent or incapable of improvement, then I - along with the other capable reenactors - will walk. Good luck, event bosses, with those buckskinners, cow udder hat wearers, saloon girl impersonators, ribbon-shirt and Nike moc wearers.
So glad you mentioned, in contrast, Ft. Toulouse! I drive 11 hours each way, twice a year, for my "fix" of first-class reenactment at that site! And here's a key observation: From having seen the internal machinery at that and other, less period correct events, I can say for a fact that it eats up just as much energy and effort to produce a bad event as a good one. It's all a question of CHOICE. If site/event managers CHOOSE to let rondyzooers and plastic bead vendors dominate their event, they are 100% to blame for letting the event go to blazes. In sites/events that rely to any degree on public monies, that is not just a an embarrassment: it is a betrayal of public trust. And for sites/events that court school groups: Shame on you! You are creating false impressions of history that will be difficult to ever correct.
You would think that after we have been doing this for so long that site managers would learn from the mistakes of others. But apparently not. I've been doing this for 23 years. For others, even 25 or 30 years. This year I have been very selective on which events I attend. It has been much better to attend four really good events this year, than a dozen crappy ones.