Most living history events that I attend have pre-registration. For some places, it is mandatory. I always do this, because it can cause a lot of problems for event hosts if the count of attendees is more than what they planned.
If you were cooking dinner for some friends visiting the house, and were expecting 10 people to attend, then what do you do if 20 people show up? It is the same way for our reenactment. If they have planned for 40 who have pre-registered and suddenly 50 shows up for the event and expect food, then it is often too late to change the menu or go to the store to buy more food.
Other events I participate at are invite-only. You should only participate if you are invited. This is where we have a specific number of interpreters involved to give specific impressions. When I was at Old Florida Festival in March, it is invite only. This is so we don't have two Yankees show up and 40 Confederates. We want to have an even number of camps, and we don't want one particular side to take over the event and completely eclipse the job being done by different impressions.
Another reason for invite only, is if an event is acting out a specific event in time or scenario, and wants certain impressions. Our event at Payne's Creek portraying the burning of the store was an example, and was a scripted theatrical production. The event in St. Augustine a few weeks ago was acting out a specific point in time, when the Second Seminole War was just beginning, and portraying the people and mood in the city at that particular time.
These scenarios or theatrical events are my favorite, because I feel that I really get to interpret and not blow smoke out the musket. About 15 years ago we had a first person event at Fort Foster, which was among the best event I have ever done.
For big, very large events I have attended in other states, you sign up with a participating unit. If your unit does not portray that particular event, then you do not go as a reenactor. None of this ridiculous stuff we have in Florida, of Seminoles showing up at Civil War battles. It did not happen. They were not part of the battle, so they are not, and should not, be part of the event. Only accurate portrayals of units involved in that battle should be there.
So after covering all of this, it leads me to a recent, unfortunate incident.
The event in St. Augustine last month was invite only. It portrays the time at the beginning of the war, where the people were not sure what was going on, and the thunder clouds of war were approaching.
A certain group of reenactors showed up. They were not invited. Even if they had been invited, they did not give advance notice that they would be in attendance, which is something that should always be done for an event.
Well, they were kicked out of the Indian camp. Primarily because they were not invited, nor did they notify the event of their participation. So they went to the fort, and wanted to portray, "friendly Creeks" or "Creek allies." There is a problem with this. The time that was being portrayed for this event was long before the Creek regiment arrived in Florida. That would be six months later. They wanted to portray something that did not exist at the time. So this would have given an incorrect interpretation for the event. In my opinion, this group sabotaged, or attempted to sabotage the event by just being there.
I know how you feel. Maybe you didn't want to bring this up, but some people are not invited to an event or invited back to one because they do not portray the period correctly, they failed to show up as promised OR (the biggy) they are just plain obnoxious. Just because you think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn't mean you are. But if you think you have been left out by mistake, common courtesy would dictate that you should call first . . . especially if it is a paid gig.