I was able to make it to the Fort Cooper reenactment this past weekend. I love the park since I first participated in the reenactment there in 1986. I have a few observations and comments about Fort Cooper and other recent events.
1. Blackpowder rules and regulations. Yes, there are some glitches, and they are being worked on.
2. Food prices have gone up, as we all know. This has become a great expense for the event. It also becomes difficult when more reenactors show up than anticipated. Please notify the park of your participation to ensure enough food. Since this event is a park fundraiser, it significantly eats up the money the park could have raised when the cost for the food increases. Most events now charge reenactors a few dollars for food, and I would not be opposed to paying a few bucks. I am attending two large 1812 events this year, and we have to provide our own food or buy meals at a small cost. These are large, high quality 1812 events and no small affair, either. The cost for meals was a subject a few years ago with Dade Battlefield when they felt the budget crunch for an event, and now they charge a few dollars. Keep in mind that if the event does not at least break even in costs, there is no incentive for the park to continue the event.
3. Proper interpretations. This is my biggest point and takes the most explaining.
If this is an 1836 Seminole War event, then the reenactors need to be portraying the proper characters who were involved here in 1836. I have seen several improper portrayals at recent events. I do not know what to think about these odd characters.
At the Okeechobee battle reenactment in February, there is a video on youtube showing an artillery demonstration with Seminole reenactors conducting the drill and firing. Besides doing a sloppy job, it is a totally incorrect interpretation. The reenactors should have changed into soldier uniform to conduct the demonstration. I felt that the way it was done was totally inappropriate and that there is no excuse for conducting the demonstration in such a manner.
Next, I am seeing this group portraying Seneca. As far as I can tell, there were no Seneca involved in the Second Seminole War. The Seneca had been at peace with the United States since 1794. Showing up at Seminole War events is an improper interpretation and impression for the event, so they are just playing Indian. What many of us have said for the past 25 years is that if you participate as Seminoles at the events, then you do it properly. Know your proper outfit, and develop a proper interpretation. You have modern Seminole tribal members attending these events who are descendants of the warriors who fought here in 1836, and it is important that we honor their ancestors with a proper impression.