The world of "Living History", whether a Frontier Rendezvous or a Civil War era re-enactment, has experienced an increase in popularity recently, both in the number of participants and events as well as the number of visitors attending these events. Participants take on personas and duplicate as well as possible the life these personas would have lived. Most reenactors take great care in using only exacting recreation of clothing, gear, and equipment from the past. Furthermore, many take on the role of teachers, explaining how our ancestors coped with the daily rigors of life. Visitors to these events can expect to find participants portraying fur trappers, Native Americans, craftsmen and artisans of all types, traders, soldiers, Victorian ladies, and more! The Middle Mississippi River Valley is host to a number of annual "Living History" events.
Page 3 of 3
The Alton Cemetery comes alive with living history at the annual Vintage Voices heritage program. Visitors will be able to walk down the shaded paths of the historic Alton Cemetery and meet the men and women who lived in the Alton area during the 19th and early 20th century. Members of the Alton Little Theater and the YWCA will portray individuals who lived, worked, or in some significant way had an impact on Alton's history. The reenactors take position near the gravesite of the person that they have chosen to portray and entertain their audiences with first person accounts of true tales of Alton’s past. By choosing to portray a diverse group of historical characters who the general public is unfamiliar with, the organizers of Vintage Voices are able to give its visitors a unique perspective of what life was like in Alton's past.
Civil War Days
This annual event includes battle reenactments, living history, and encampments at Columbus-Belmont State Park. Friday is "education day." Schools, scouts, groups, & clubs are encouraged to schedule field trips. Battles will be held at 2 pm Saturday and Sunday. There will be a Ghost Walk on Friday evening and a Civil War Ball on Saturday night. Sunday morning features services and a Memorial Service at Columbus Cemetery. Sutlers and food vendors will be on site to serve the needs of the reenactors and visiting guests and there will be special entertainment daily.
Frontier Settlement Day
The Friends of the Cabins holding its Frontier Settlement Day at the village to show off the village on Quinsippi Island, which was built in the late 1960s to save and preserve structures that were located on area farms and in the way of future roads. As you slowly drive across the one lane bridge consider that you will be able to step back in time to the 1800s at the log cabin village for the day. Learn how felt hats and rugs were made, what church was like and visit with the ladies who will be having tea. There will be wool spinning, chair caning and a host of other activities for young and old alike. There will be music and games.
Old Settlers Days
This annual festival is held on the banks of the Illinois River and features both Civil War and Mountain men encampments. There will demonstrations throughout the weekend including activities such as soap making, blacksmithing, woodworking, flint knapping, jewelry making, bow building, fiddle contests, and children’s activities. There will be various mountain man activities such as shooting contests and visitors will be able to get up close and personal to the primitive living quarters.
The Grafton Rendezvous the French Fur Trading era and is a great place to either participate in the activities or just to experience some of America’s past firsthand. There are plenty of demonstrators, activities, period traders and merchants, and good old fashioned food to go around.
French & Indian War Assemblage
Prairie du Rocher, Illinois
Every fall reenactors at the restored Fort de Chartres State Historic Site in southwestern Illinois portray this time period. Military drills and competitions form the major part of the event. Teams from around the Midwest compete against each other in different military skills common to soldiers of the era. There are individual and team black powder shoots from varying distances, officers reenact pistol duels against an imaginary opponent, and the men attempt to skewer targets in thrust and parry contests. A variety of teams portraying militia units take part in these activities that culminate in a mock battle on Sunday.
Rural Heritage Day
Sainte Genevieve, Missouri
Rural Heritage Day is a celebration of history, reverie and reminiscence dedicated to the hard working forefathers and foremothers of Sainte Genevieve, the oldest colonial town in Missouri. The event celebrates rural skills and traditions with ‘living history’ demonstrations of plowing, clogging, outdoor cooking, food preservation, fur trading, a tractor parade, and children’s games. This is a family-friendly event that offers something for everyone. Many of the farming demonstrations take place on the ‘Big Field’ below town, with other demonstrations occurring in the shops sprinkled throughout the historic district. The historic district features a Passport for Historic Home tour and demonstrations of wool spinning, paper filigree, chair caning, loom weaving and knitting. Included in the tour are the Bauvais-Amoureux House, the Bolduc House, the Felix Vallé State Historic Site, and La Maison de Guibourd. Pick up a map and a schedule of events at the Welcome Center, and watch for signs indicating the location of festival-related activities.
French & Indian War Fall Rendezvous
Prairie du Rocher, Illinois
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site presents a weekend of colorful clothing, hand-made crafts, period music and delicious food at the annual Winter Rendezvous. Soldiers, trappers, traders, and Native Americans (as portrayed by historic reenactors) will gather at the rendezvous. They’ll trade goods, buy supplies, and some will take part in a shooting contest that requires them to walk through the woods and fire flintlocks at pop-up targets. The rendezvous is fun both for the participants demonstrating frontier life from 1700 to1820 and for visitors spending an autumn day wandering among the tents, campfires and historic French colonial fort.
Arrival at Camp River Dubois
On December 12, 1803, Captain William Clark wrote, “opposit the Missouries I came to in the mouth of a little River called Wood River, about 2 oClock ...” The next day he and his men would begin setting up their winter encampment at this site for the winter of 1803-1804. Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, just several miles south of the current mouth of the Wood River is Camp River Dubois. This facility, operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is designated as Site #1 on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and features the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and a replica of the 1803-04 winter encampment. Every year in early December visitors are able to relive the arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as reenactors set up at the site to recreate the preparations for that historic journey. On the grounds are craft exhibitors demonstrating early American skills such as woodworking and candle making and there will be recreations of marching drills, cooking and shooting demonstrations.
Night has fallen, the stars shine above, and thousands of candles illuminate a world on the edge of the frontier. Usher in the holiday season with a visit to the Historic Daniel Boone Home and Boonesfield Village Annual Candlelight Tour. Each building is decorated in 19th century fashion and illuminated by thousands of candles, bonfires, and starlight. Guests step back to the 19th century and witness Christmas as it was celebrated in the past. Period music will echo through the valley offering a simpler, more delightful holiday experience. Learn about different cultures and traditions while enjoying period decorations and hot wassail.