What Happens at Events?

There are three main types of events that we sponsor and participate in.

The first are visits to libraries, schools and civic organizations, where we attempt to educate on a more personal basis.

The second are training events and hearth nights, where we get together—often not in historical clothing, at least all the time—and practice those skills we need to give a good representation of the time; learn, share and teach new skills; and get to know our fellow and potential reenactors.

And finally, and most importantly, we sponsor and participate in full-fledged shows that are generally opened to the public. In the Midwest, most shows are held outdoors between April and October and are announced months ahead so that we can get ready for them.

Regia delineates its period area within a ropeline like many other living-history groups. The rope keeps the public away from things they shouldn’t meddle with—such as fires, sharp weapons, stepping into tents, etc. More importantly, during previously announced “public” hours, everything within the ropeline must be accurate, and we wear accurate costumes, practice accurate pursuits and try to keep our camp as accurate as possible. Dodgy and openly inaccurate items should be kept in shelters or hidden from public view and kept far enough back that inquisitive spectators cannot check under a cloth or inside a tent.

The show might include displays of reproduction artifacts, combat tacticals and drill using rebated-steel weapons and other period activities. We hope that visitors to our camps will feel as if they walked back in time! The past becomes more real and alive to both them and us than it ever was before.

Most shows start for the reenactors on Friday afternoon or evening when they arrive on site and set up camp. They do not have to wear their historical clothing then and can use out-of-period technologies. Some have even been known to bring their gear into camp using a motorized vehicle! The Authenticity Officer will make certain that everyone is dressed in accurate and appropriate clothes and will make suggestions for what needs to be changed before it may be featured in a show. We greet old friends and talk about what we are going to do during the show. On both Saturday and Sunday, at a specified time (generally about a half an hour before we open to the public), the a ropeline is set up around the period encampment, and the area is policed to make certain that all farb—non-period materials—are removed or hidden.

At a specified time in the morning, the public is admitted, and hopefully they will not see all the hard work that went into making a good presentation for them. This presentation of everyday life during the time is sometimes known as the Living History Exhibition (or LHE).

At a specified time in the afternoon, "public" hours are declared over. Even though the public is not usually herded out of the area, the stringent obedience to regulations relax. Sometimes, interested members of the public stay to ask questions and to participate in the informal after-hours merriment. On Saturdays, we eat, often ordering out for good Anglo-Saxon pizza, talk and relax from the rigors of the day. There might be singing or storytelling around the campfire. There might be sharing photos and other files on a computer. Some people change into modern clothes, an odd amalgamation of modern and historical clothes or even a totally different set of clothes, sometimes fantasy or from another era (just make certain there are no newspaper photographers still lurking around).

For the most part, we set up encampments using tents and other shelters. They are according to period styles but generally are made of cotton canvas, not wool or linen canvas as they were in period. We are not trying to set up a military camp; if we had actually buildings, that would be more correct, but that state is far in the future!

On Sunday, the event ends, and the closing time may be an hour or two before the time was on Saturday. All the gear that was used for maintaining the illusion of another time is packed up, and—amidst hugs and leave-taking—we all go home and get ready for the next event.

During the public hours, there might be organized activities, or the reenactors may just hang out, talking to the public. We might, at the same time, be gaming (period games such as knucklebones and tafl), cooking over the campfire or weaving. Most of the time, we do what is called "Third-Person Impressions," in which they talk about the time portrayed but do not pretend to be from that time, or "First-Person Impressions," when they pretend that they are from that time. Obviously, in the latter case, they can not know of any event or technology after that time, although some reenactors like "Second-Person Impressions," where they bounce back and forth between First- and Third-Person Impressions. An impression or persona is simply the character that you dress as or portray.

Be honest. If there is something you don’t know, don’t lie or invent. Admit that you don’t know and send the spectators to someone who knows. If something is not exactly right or accurate—because of safety, expense or just availability—admit it and explain what it would have been.

While care must be taken to main scrupulous accuracy behind the ropeline, avoiding the use of tobacco, spectacles and other modern items, that necessity is lifted when we step outside the ropeline. Even so, being flagrantly inaccurate in kit—meaning personal clothing and accessories—while among the public is discouraged. After all, as long as you wear your costume, you are a representative of the hobby, and newspaper photographers seem to love getting candid shots of reenactors not being accurate!

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