View Full Version : Help in hosting a new Central Illinois event...

10-25-2007, 11:30 PM
Since I began reenacting a couple of years ago, I have been bouncing the idea around in my head about starting what hopefully could become an annual event back in my hometown in Clinton, IL. I believe the location to be perfect, as it is a large mansion and estate that was once owned by C.H. Moore, who was one of Abraham Lincoln's law partners while he was still a circuit lawyer. The beautifully restored home and grounds are large enough to support a living history garrison event, and is conveniently located about a block from a large cemetery that has an area set aside for the remains of the local soldiers who fought in the CW.

I have spoken with the Curator of the museum, who was very excited at the prospect of having an event of this type on the grounds. Every year, they have a fall festival called the "Apple & Pork Festival". When I was a kid, I remember them having a black powder shoot, with Buckskinners from all over the area coming and setting up a camp. Since I had moved away, and hadn't attended this festival in about 25 years, I was very disappointed when, upon returning this year to find that there was virtually no living historians, other than one sutler selling Colonial and Rev war accoutrements. I do have to say that the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regimental Band was there, and was enjoyed very much by the crowd.

What I am proposing is a Garrison type event to be held on the Estate grounds. It would be held over a 3 day period to allow for school day activities. I would also like to have some type of memorial service held at Woodlawn Cemetery in the CW section. I am in need of advice/assistance as to what it would take to put on an event of this size. Any direction to websites, books, etc. will be greatly appreciated, and if anyone in the Central Illinois area, get in touch with me. I would love to have you come up and walk the grounds to get your input on setting this thing up.


10-26-2007, 08:55 AM
My first suggestion is, given the late date that you are starting this concept, that you shoot for a 2009 date rather than a 2008 date. My second suggestion is that, if you are considering having this as a recurring event, you consider having it on alternate years rather than annually in order to avoid burning units out and allow yourself more time to incorporate fresh ideas each time.

10-28-2007, 11:44 PM
I grew up near there (Quad Cities) and remember going there to see the 33rd IL band at the pork fest a few times when I was young. That property would be great for a living history and I hope it works out well.

The only other times I ever went to Clinton was when my band played at some dive bar called the Pig Pen. My mom swears that Clinton smells like dog food.

10-30-2007, 02:46 PM
Thank you for the ideas and suggestions so far. Any and all input is truly appreciated.

11-09-2007, 10:51 AM
I spoke with the Curator of the museum again yesterday, and he is looking forward to hosting an event on the museum grounds. At the minimum, he would like to see at least a small camp set up during the Apple and Pork festival in September, and any other events we can put together. They also do a cemetery walk during the year and an old time baseball game in July.

This museum is really trying to bring back more living history folks (buckskinners, cw, French & Indian, etc.), so if you or anyone you know portrays any of these eras, let me know. The 33rd Illinois will be back, so we will at least have some good music to listen to.

11-09-2007, 12:39 PM

Three things you will need at your event:

1) wood
2) water
3) toilets

As long as these basic needs are met, you can have an event at any location. If the curator is as excited about the event as you make it sound, he/she should be able to provide water and toilets at the museum. They should also be able to provide wood. Your need would be dependent on the time of year you are planning on have the event; cooking vs warmth.

If there is a wooded area on the property, you would probably be able to collect enough wood in deadfall, etc. Might even help the museum by cleaning up the area.

Other than that, it doesn't sound like a difficult thing to put together. Just make sure that you are clear on the expectations of the museum and they are clear on yours. If it gets to hokie, run the other way.

11-09-2007, 01:10 PM
Permits are the biggest hassle you need to get the local Police and Fire Chief on board and create a proposal to present including Fire and Firearms Safety Regulations as well as a description on waht will be occuring at the event. My suffestion is to find a unit that has hosted events and ask them about it our unit has a few events we host and it is Alot of work. The 2008 date can be done but you need to get rolling now and By the next council meeting bring your proposal. Make sure to ass where the proceeds are going if you are charging I will assume you are trying to put most towards the restoration of the area. Good luck it is alot of work but Very Fun!

Kevin O'Beirne
11-09-2007, 01:25 PM
Permits are the biggest hassle

Let's not presume. Just because some communities have permit requirments, or their services such as police departments, need to be notified in advance, does not mean it's that way everywhere. Best advice is to contact the museum and the municipal government and ask.

And for most small events, as this would probably be, permits and approvals are not a hassle (although if one planned a 2,000-person event, then they might be). The hassles are many and varied and and include stuff like

Selecting the right event team and the "right" commanders.
Selecting the portrayals and specialty impressions, if any.
Setting and meeting expectations with the site owner, participants, and spectators.
Providing adequate logistical needs.
Obtaining land use permissions in writing.
Insurance concerns.
Handling the money.
Handling the registration paperwork.
Participant communications.
Establishing and enforcing standards of some sort for participants.

And many others. Running an event isn't rocket science, but it's also not something that everyone is suited for. One needs to be motivated, organized, and have some communications ability, and be supported by key individuals with similar qualities, for an event to be a success.

11-09-2007, 02:39 PM
Permits are the biggest hassle.....

I've helped to put on two events, each aimed at 100's of participants in Virginia and I haven't needed any permits for either one. One was on CWPT land (Payne's Farm) and the other was at the Kernstown battlefield near Winchester.

If there have been events at the museum in the past, the museum should be familiar with and handle any permits necessary.

11-09-2007, 04:53 PM
Thank you for the words of encouragement, and the tips for getting this thing off the ground. I am going to be scheduling a meeting with the Curator in the next week or so, and get his input on what he expects/needs/wants. With the size of this event, it shouldn't be too much of a hassle to make it happen, however, I would still like to get in touch with some local reenactors to see if they have any interest in this.

There's nothing like throwing a party, and nobody shows up to eat the cake. ;)

11-11-2007, 09:59 PM

Being new to reenacting, I've sought the adviced of more experienced folk. Our curator and I attended an event in Jerseyville, IL, this past Labor Day weekend that was along the lines of the event that you're contemplating for Clinton. The event was described as a festival of 19th century life and was held on the grounds of a post-CW rural estate. You might try contacting the organizers and solicit their input. I can't recall the specifi name of the event at the moment, but I found it by googling Jerseyville Civil War Festival. Mas and Donna Daniels portray M/M Lincoln, there are sutlers, food, historic crafts, flea market vendors, an encampment, a battle each day, etc. It was a good event for us as wee seek to increase the Funeral Museum's visibility. If you can't locate the event, let me know, and I'll try to get something more concrete for you.

07-30-2008, 06:27 PM
Been awhile since this thread has been posted on, but I wanted to bring everyone up to date as to what is upcoming. I spoke again with the Curator this afternoon, and he is still wanting to have a living history display for the Apple and Pork Festival. The date for this event will be September 27th & 28th. I am currently the only one who will be setting up a small display, and would love to have anyone else who would like camp for the weekend come and set up as well. We have been given a wide open berth as to what we want to do at this event, and can really bring this together for a worthy museum. There is also an event that will be more geared to the civil war in August, 2009 (old time baseball, ice cream social, cemetery walk, etc.) in the works, and they would also like to see this grow into a full fledged skirmish. Wood, water and straw will be provided, and if any artillery would like to come, I am working on the museum providing a bounty for powder. Any help in this would be greatly appreciated.

07-30-2008, 09:51 PM
We have a group located in central/southern Illinois and western Indiana. If you get anything together PM me and I'll see if we can't add your event to our schedule.

As for planning an event that is so soon, as was said earlier, it would probably be wise to forego this year and concentrate on next year. My unit was stuck in the same boat as you are with a new event last year at Ft. Massac. Luckily we had a little bit of funding and cooperation from a history teacher in the area and somehow pulled everything off with only a few months of hectic planning. The main thing you have to worry about is trying to find a time between other events, as many units are already scheduled to be elsewhere. We had enough contacts and friends in other groups that did us a big favor and came to our event instead of ones they normally went to. Make sure you get the date out there as soon as possible and this shouldn't be a problem.

Other than that your basics like wood, water, straw......
You may want to look into meals that are provided, even if it is something simple. Bounties and powder are also something you might want to consider.

07-31-2008, 01:15 AM
Thanks for responding.. This "event" has kind of changed from what I envisioned, as far as a full blown living history/CW event. Since we are so close to time, we are going to be extremely small this year. I am talking about if I could get half a dozen other reenactors to set up with me and just do simple living history haversack talks, I would be absolutely thrilled. According to the curator, there is a gentleman from the area that is planning a CW weekend in August, 2009 that will be more along the scope of what I originally envisioned when I started this post several months ago. I also posted originally that the 33rd Regt. Band would be performing again this year. I was informed today that they would not be attending this years event. The reason I feel that this event is so important, is that the number of living historians, for one reason or another, has dropped off. This leaves a huge gap to be filled, and I don't want to see it filled with a snow cone vendor, or someone selling velvet indian paintings. It needs to be filled by people like us who feel that sharing the history of this country with the public is so important, in a place that holds some significant historical value.

The invitation is out there to anyone who wants to put on the blue for a weekend and help out a museum that could definitely use the help. I will be posting more information as I get it, so you can make a better decision as to whether or not you would like to attend.

07-31-2008, 08:40 AM
I am scheduled to work that weekend. If I can get someone to swap with me, I'll pop on up for a weekend of camping and "aging" of my gear. I am fairly new to the hobby, but have a good early war federal impression.

Besides, something called the Apple and Pork Festival has to have some good eating available I wager. :)

07-31-2008, 10:07 PM
That would be great. This is a perfect event to just get out and enjoy interacting with the public, as well as a great opportunity to work on your impression.

Man, let me tell you about the food. The ham and beans are so good, they'd make a puppy pull a freight train to get some. If you go away from this event hungry, then it is your own fault.

Hopefully you can get someone to swap with you and you can make it down.