“This isn’t your ordinary small town. People here certainly rolled out the red carpet!” That was the reaction of many of the re-enactors who were here for the Battle of Sunset Lake. These lovers of history come from all walks of life, big and little cities. Their appreciation for the hospitality and their goal of teaching Vicksburg-area people about the Revolutionary War was heartwarming.
The men, women, and children were grateful for the fine spectator turnout – they love to perform. Just as importantly, they were delighted with the facilities at Recreation Park and the Historic Village. Topping all of that was an appreciation for the marvelous dinner prepared by local church groups for their consumption before parading downtown for the Taste of Vicksburg.
“We don’t usually eat like this at our gatherings,” said one man from the 1st Dragoons.
“It’s usually Kentucky Fried Chicken from the local take out. We loved the roast pork, the roasted potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, cornbread, and especially the apple crisp and ice cream for dessert.” It is usually said that soldiers march better on a full stomach, but these folks were ready for a good nap after that huge meal on Saturday, June 25.
The spectacle of seeing men, women, and children in 18th century garb on the main streets of Vicksburg was awesome, many people said. Once the parade got to the Main and Prairie four corners, the headliner band for the re-enactment took the stage to much applause. The re-enactors mingled with the crowd for the Taste on a hot summer day and even enjoyed a cool brew that the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce was offering as part of the Taste’s annual event.
It was hot and hotter as the two days progressed. The re-enactors were marching in wool uniforms that were wringing wet for over 48 hours with nary a complaint heard. In fact they often said they have experienced far worse. One wonders why the do this when it might be so much more comfortable to be at home in their nice air conditioned surroundings.
Often, their answer was how much they liked being with their buddies who loved the same thing. Many of them had grown up with their parents who participated in re-enacting battles. There are quite a few young people in the North West Territory Alliance (NWTA) to carry on for many years. The Alliance was formed for this country’s Bicentennial in 1976. Its membership has ebbed and flowed through the years. Today it is over 600 strong with several new recruits joining up after each event. They put people in dress clothes and give them a chance to experience what this play-acting is all about.
Then there are the Boy Scouts who were the catalyst for the entire event. My appreciation of the scout leaders and their kids is unbounded. They just know how to get a job done. When a swarm of scouts descend on a project, nothing can stop them. They problem solve, do the dirty work of set-up and clean-up, all the while learning lessons that will stay with them for life, of responsibility and caring for their community. Kevin Borden as their leader is amazing. He suffered a personal tragedy on Saturday morning and while in a state of shock, still got the rest of the leaders to pull together for the prescribed duties.
Vicksburg’s DPW workers carried out their duties so faithfully that there was never a doubt that the grounds were in immaculate condition at all times. They served at the Taste of Vicksburg and at the Recreation Park and Historic Village along with the police and EMS teams from the Ambulance Service.
Vicksburg Community Schools lent chairs, busses and bus drivers, which helped immensely by getting the public too and from the parking area at the pavilion to the park where they could sit comfortably on the chairs provided by the school.