Maybe I like to take the punnishment.
Well someone has to say it, so I guess I will. If you don’t like what I have to say, take your best shot. Overall and in the end, it won’t matter and I will still be here.
This past weekend we had a great time at Dade Battlefield. Overall, it was a success. We had a great memorial for Chobee on Saturday night.
The Dade reenactment is a unique event unlike any other living history event. Most events only run about 10 years and then either fall to the wayside or become a different event. We have been doing this for 26 years. Probably most of the soldiers and most of the warriors are older than the original participants. Dade is also unique where all meals are provided, along with blackpowder. As far as I know, Fort Cooper is the only other event that comes close to this. I have been to some major events with hundreds or thousands of reenactors, there is only one feed which you have to pay for in advance, and you have to provide your own powder. And you have to pre-register for the event with a unit or participants are evaluated with a photo application. Do people realize how lucky we are to have what we do at Dade, especially from a tiny park with only three full-time employees?
That said, there are still a few maintenance issues I want to mention to the reenactors. At the state park, all codes and regulations are still in effect and can be enforced. This is what we agree upon for volunteering for this event. This is straight from Tallahassee, have been in effect for many years, and are nothing new. Some are: No ropes or wires are to be tied to live trees. All dogs must be on a leash. No one under 16 years of age is to participate in the battle reenactment. I do not mean to get onto anyone here, but these were all things I saw violated, and probably just out of lack of knowledge of these events.
At some of the events that I have attended out of state, the commanders are given these types of notices and rules during a commander’s meeting to pass onto the troops. Unfortunately, our group does not have many commanders, and people come and go as they please. Maybe next year we should have these mailed to everyone in their pre-registration packets, and have them sign a statement that they have read them and agreed to them. I know that sounds a bit hookey to some, but these are offenses that you can be fined for violating in any other state park in Florida.
There was a question of blackpowder, as to why it was only 2F and no 3F for smaller guns? Well I asked that, and that is the current state regulation for black powder at reenactments. We would like to have this changed to allow for 3F for smaller caliber rifles, but that is the current rule. Another rule is the measure of each charge, which was why we had the two different size cartridges. There was a mix-up and not all the information was communicated on the powder, but that will have to be worked out next year.
I know some of you miss getting that full pound can of blackpowder, but that is a thing of the past. Powder is just too expensive for a small park to purchase 150 lbs of rifle powder, and about 5 lbs minimum of cannon powder. All the money for this comes out of the budget for the event. There is no state purchase of blackpowder anymore; that is long gone.
And let me say this final thing on blackpowder. After the battle on Sunday, there was one long-time Seminole reenactor who set off an obviously overloaded charge by yourself at the edge of the palmettos. You should know the standards, and this charge was at least 200 grains. We know who you are, and have taken note of this.
One thing else I asked was about the restroom facilities. The buildings at the park are on a septic tank system. Any of you who have these at home know the problems with them. The park is not on a city sewer system. The septic tanks are unable to handle the load from thousands of people and will back up. So the use has to be limited. When I was in Alabama, we had the same situations and locked the bathrooms during events and had port-a-potties instead. This is what should be done at Dade. Also, people flushed paper towels down the toilets, which anyone who has worked with a septic system knows that paper towels will block up the pipes and harden like concrete. Paper towels are the worst things for the pipes, which is what happened this weekend. The restrooms were open on Friday, but there is a reason why they were closed on Saturday, so I asked and found this out. Next year we probably need to have this communicated to everyone so they can understand.
So that brings us to the question of the port-a-potties. These things have really gotten expensive and are eating up a lot of the budget for the event. The 8 or so that were in the park cost over $2000 for the weekend. I guess that is now the market rate. Supply and demand. There were some by the front gate and Indian camp, some by the museum and soldier camp, and one in the modern camp. That is all there was, and they were put close to the reenactors, but in a place where they public could have use of them also. Fortunately the company came and cleaned them out Saturday evening, so they weren’t bad.
If anyone missed it, the park manager did visit the camps and did visit during the nighttime programs we did on Saturday. She didn’t have too. If she didn’t care, she would not have been there. She took a laid-back approach on many things this weekend. This event is run by the volunteers, and the DB Society and us as reenactors are the volunteers. If there is anything you didn’t like or would like to change, please get involved with the Society or planning out next year. They are certainly in need of help. There were basically only five people who had to plan the entire event. Any more help would be greatly appreciated. If you want to see this wonderful event continue, then please help out.