4th of July weekend Civil War re-enactment!!
I don't usually talk about my hobbies and family pastimes, but I wanted to let you all in on what I'll be doing this weekend. I got made fun of by some of the mean boys in high school for my nerdy hobbies, so I'm sensitive... but, for the past 19 years, I think, my mom has had a business making historic replica clothing, for re-enactors and museums and such. So, I have grown up with it and can tell you all about the fashion from 1833 or 1915 or whatever you like, and clear some things up about corsets and bustles! My mom also gives fashion shows, where my friends and I are frequently models, and is involved in historic sites and state and national parks throughout Oregon. If you want to visit, her business is Lavender's Green Historic Clothing.
Anyhoo, my mom sews for people all over the country and around, but one big market for historic clothing in Oregon is civil war reenactors. Yes, I know it's weird--there wasn't much going on in Oregon from 1861-64! If you live on the east coast, you've probably seen a whole lot more going on re-enacting the civil war, but we actually have a pretty large group here in the West, with four large overnight weekend events per summer--the organization is the Northwest Civil War Council.
The biggest (and best, according to my mom) event is the annual 4th of July weekend campaign at Willamette Mission State Park on the Willamette River outside Salem, Oregon's capital. It's a big to-do every year, getting ready for it--we set up a "sutlery" on Sutler's Row, where most of the tents sell small souvenirs or accessories for the military reenactors. We're the only ladies' dress shop, although some other ones do sell clothing, but we usually have a quiet few tents set up at the end of the row along the filbert grove in the center of the reenactment. My dad sometimes comes out to the event, although not as a soldier, and over the years different friends have come out with us, too. Now my cousin and her 18-month-old daughter come with us, and my fiance's family has all become very involved! His sister marches in a unit, his brother loves to wear the clothes, and his older sister had a great time when we lent her some clothes one year! Although he does not enjoy sitting in the hot sun in a wool suit and hat. ;)
In the weeks leading up to the event, I help my mom out preparing inventory for her store--new dresses, hats, corsets, hoop skirts, etc. to sell to reenactors, although most of her business is custom. So, I've been over at my parents' house several days a week recently, sewing all day! And ordering new catalogs, helping with supplier orders, etc. Anyway, I've been a little distracted from blogging this past week but promise to be 100% back in the game on Tuesday, July 6th when we return from the three-day event!!
I did want to share with you some pictures from previous events, to tide you over (I do hope to show some pics of the new dress I've been making myself this week).
Here's some of me and my family and friends at Willamette Mission in previous years (we've sewn everything we're wearing--this is part of how I learned to sew):
My mom's "store":
It gets a little old (one year when the 4th was a Wednesday we had a 5-day long event in 100+ degree heat), but I get so excited every year! This year it's Saturday, Sunday the 4th, and Monday, open to the public from 9:00 till 6:00, with a full schedule of events going on. Two battles a day, a fashion show (delivered by yours truly) and music and military demonstrations all day!
Anyway, if you live in the general Oregon-ey area, I highly encourage you to bring the kids out to the civil war event this weekend, if you don't have any big plans through Monday! If you live anywhere in the US, I recommend Google-ing "civil war reenacting" in your area to see if there's a group near you--it's a really cool thing to come out with a picnic lunch, the family, and a camera and walk around for the day, generally on long weekends during the summer.
Regardless of what you're doing this holiday weekend, I hope you have a great one and enjoy it with friends and family, celebrating the 4th in whatever way you do. I think we're having a cherry pie on Sunday at the event, and sometimes there are big, big fireworks on the battlefield at night. Happy 4th of July weekend!