This past weekend we had Old Florida Festival at the Collier County Museum in downtown Naples. It was a phenomenal event, like it usually is. We think that we had a record crowd; about 5,000 attendees. 5k might not sound like a big crowd, but consider that the museum is hidden in the back of the government complex, and the county is very resistant about us putting up any signs. We may have even made enough money to cover the expenses!
This is a multi-period living history festival, with historical interpreters from the Stone Age to WW2. I really enjoyed this one, because I got to talk a lot of history and do a little interpretation, which seems to be something that I rarely get to do anymore.
Another thing that I liked is that this is an invite-only event. So only the best interpreters are allowed to demonstrate. And we pay them enough to cover their gas and maybe some other expenses. This year the budget was very short, so we could not invite as many. But still, we have people from all over the state who were demonstrators.
One purpose for being invite-only is that we have just a few people for every camp. This gives a good spread of interpreters for different periods of history. So we will not have 50 Confederates and 2 Yankees. We try to be careful that one period does not take over the event and overwhelm the other periods. We have a couple Calusa and Spaniards in the back that we do not want them to become lost in the crowd.
So after I have briefly described this event, you can hopefully understand that the purpose of the event is a high quality living history program.
There is one thing that happened Saturday evening that I did not like. It was nothing to do with the event, but more of the appearance of some boy scouts & leaders who arrived after we had finished for the day.
I am not against the scouts. I have many years involvement with the program as a youth and adult. The problem is with this one particular, local troop.
This is a quality living history event. This is not a scout camporee. This troop wanted to come to the event, and were not invited. The previous year, we had a problem with this troop taking over the event, with kids running around playing grab ass, and sleeping in the tents and shelters reserved for the historical interpreters who have to drive a long way to get here. This turns into an unfortunately situation where the presence of the scouts detracts from the purpose and mission of the festival, which is a living history timeline.
I came across this 25-year old leader with this troop wearing a jamboree uniform (not his regular troop shirt) with the Eagle medal, which is supposed to be worn by the youth members and not adults for uniform wear. If you are a scouter like me, then you know that this is not an acceptable uniform. He was complaining about the canvas tents (which are not their tents) being used for the historical interpreters, and not being set aside for his troop.
I have my own canvas tent. I also have some canvas that can be used as shelters. I provide my own shelter unless the event offers me different, which is very rare. I have had my canvas tent since 1993, and take good care of it. I purchased it for a lot of money back then, so I make sure that it serves me well. These are not play tents, but an expansive part of the equipment that is part of the historical interpretation. They are also interpretive tools.
Probably the heart of the matter that annoyed me is this: This scouter came to the event in scout uniform to push his agenda, and was not wearing the uniform because they were at any scouting function. They did not volunteer for anything; to park cars or to empty trash barrels. They only came to complain why we would not let them camp at the event, which is a non-scouting function. Using the uniform to push an agenda is something I consider unethical. Coming to the event after it had ended for the day, wearing the uniform, and asking why they were not invited to a non-scouting event annoyed me to no end.
There are some scout troops that can be very helpful. There are others that can become annoying.
And bravo to the History Club from Barron Collier High School who did come to help out at the festival.
So glad we missed these cretons in the Spanish Camp or we may have run them up our 16 foot long pike! And What an embarrassment to scouting! What kind of values are the kids being taught? Certainly not that of service.
My most memorable comment of the weekend was from a woman who asked, "Did you make that or your persona?"
The museum does sponsor a troop or venture crew that does living history, and they were there at the festival. But they performed specific duties, probably were not noticed, and did not intrude upon the historical interpreters or public.