My dad and I went to Jacksonville, IL today to attend their annual Grierson Days, which honors Gen. Grierson, who was a resident of Jacksonville. He is best remembered for his raid into Mississippi with his cavalry that is portrayed in the John Wayne film The Horse Soldiers. This raid, which led to the destruction of the railroad supplying Vicksburg aided Grant in his victory against the Confederate stronghold. Now, back to the event.This event is one of the biggest reenacting events in the state, if not the Midwest. It is held every June in Jacksonville and brings many participants and vendors, including the well-known Fall Creek Sutlery, which is the best known dealer of reenacting equipment. One of the big highlights of the weekend event are the two “battles” between Union and Confederate “forces.” Now, I have been to many events (most at my hometown during their annual Victorian Festival) and most are very good. However, the event at Grierson Days is probably one of the worst I have attended. Let me make this clear, THE SOLDIERS PARTICIPATING IN THE ACTUAL REENACTMENT WERE WONDERFUL AND DID A GREAT JOB. You may be asking then, why am I saying this is the worst event I have attended? The answer is the announcers. This is the only reenactment I have been to where there are announcers during the battlefield.
Here are my problems with the announcing. First, is the announcing itself. This takes away from the experience as well as amplifies the sound of the weapons. They could have explained the differences in troops and weapons and the overall war before the battle, but did this during it, which breaks concentration on the battle. Second, was that the announcers kept the microphone on when they were not commenting, which caused the crowd to hear their laughing and conversation while trying to pay attention to the battle. Finally, the announcers were blatantly inaccurate and stated things regarding the battle that were obvious to those watching and did not need to be mentioned.
I understand that not everyone has great knowledge on the war, but this was ridiculous, as the announcers were misinforming attendees because they chose not to research and verify if their information was correct. On a whole, the battle was good, but would have been great had the announcers just shut up. They did not know what they were doing and took away from the great experience that attendees may have enjoyed. Here is the lesson, research before commenting to large crowds on historical matters, as you may look foolish if audience members are educated on the subject. To those in reenacting, keep up the good work and always research to maintain accuracy when presenting to people.