By Sue Moore
Over 150 Revolutionary War re-enactors and their camp followers marched down the streets of Vicksburg in a show of force during the Taste of Vicksburg’s annual celebration in 2016. “It was amazing to see so many marchers dressed in 18th century clothing, in close formation in downtown Vicksburg,” said Ted Vliek, then the president of the Vicksburg Historical Society.
The regiments will be back to Vicksburg in full force in 2017, camping out on property owned by Prudential Nursery, across the street from the Historic Village where much of the re-enactment battles will take place on Saturday. The nursery is located on N.
Richardson Street and backs up to Sunset Lake; thus the re-enactments during Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, will again be called the Battle of Sunset Lake.
Nearly 200 re-enactors are expected this year, said John Polacek, new president of the Vicksburg Historical Society and the sponsoring agency. They will come from all over the Midwest as members of the Northwest Territory Alliance (NWTA). The Alliance was formed in 1976 as the U.S. celebrated its 200-year anniversary. Each year the 600-plus-member organization travels to historic sites as re-enactors. They choose to live in the persona of a person who fought either on the British side or for the Colonials. They are excellent at teaching young and old alike about this country’s history from 1776 to 1783 when the war with Great Britain ended. The public is encouraged to walk through the camp and talk to the re-enactors while observing their 18th-century lifestyle.
Events on Saturday, June 24 begin with a pancake breakfast served by the Vicksburg Rotary Club from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. The camp will be open at 9 a.m. to visitors, a special parade will commence at 10:30 and wind through downtown Vicksburg. Adding to the festivities will be a visit to Vicksburg by the Oakland Pontiac Car Club, a world-wide organization of these specialty automobiles, built in the early -to-mid-1900s. They will be on display at the closed Bobby’s restaurant on N. Richardson Street. Some of the cars and their owners will be offering rides around the village for a small donation that will benefit the Vicksburg Historical Society. They also expect to participate in the parade downtown, providing quite a contrast with the marching units.
The encampment’s move to Prudential Nursery from the Recreation Park is an effort to make it more visible to the public. Charlie and Cindy Krill have generously made their nursery property available to the re-enactors, while keeping their office hours on Saturday open for regular business. After the parade, which will be led by the River Valley Colonials Fife and Drum corps and the Kalamazoo Pipe band, the re-enactors will form up on the green in the middle of the Historic Village. They will present an artillery demonstration, stage a battle and present a women’s fashion show.
Sunday, there will again be an early pancake breakfast with the campground open to visitors at 9 a.m. If folks missed the events on Saturday, some of them will be repeated on Sunday only in a slightly different location. It will center on an area just west of the BP gas station on V Avenue with parking available all around the pavilion. The re-enactors pack up for home at 4 p.m. and head back to their day jobs in modern clothing and shiny automobiles, according to Stefan Sekula, lead organizer from the NWTA.