Sunday, August 19, 2012

Local LH?

Today I attended Hillsboro, New Hampshire's Living History Event. I found out about it because it comes up toward the top in a Google search of "living history." I did not know about it because I live less than an hour away, nor because I am connected to the local LH community. The truth is, I am not connected to the local community. My LH community consist of those folks I've met through the Connecticut Renaissance Faire or Reenactorfest, and to confound that I don't do wars or typical American history. It just has not turned out that way. But there are local folks doing this history thing and in a time period a little more accessible than the 15th century. So I went to Hillsboro hoping to pick up something for my kit, learn local history, and possibly make some connections.

I sabotaged myself by arriving late and not having exact directions so I was anxious and self conscious by the time I arrived. The woman who sold me the ticket assured me that the reenactors at their encampment would stick around after 3 pm and I chose to believe her rather than trust my own experience which said that they all had to go to work on Monday and would pack up early. I stopped by the encampment, drove over to the Franklin Pierce Homestead for a quick tour, found my way to the lovely original town center, then trotted back to the encampment to discover the site covered in cars and half the tents already down by 3:30. In the little time I had I did get something out of the trip.

I went in intending to chat up the Rev War folks, in their encampment but the first person who acknowledged my existence was wearing Nike sandals with her colonial skirt and short gown. The next group had a good looking set up, but the cheese on their plate was still in its Stop & Shop wrapper, and their fruit was covered in stickers. I try not to be judgemental, I know we all do it for different reasons, but really, can't you at least remove the plastic? I did get up the gumption to ask one person where they were based, I think the guy was disappointed that I did not ask him a question about history, I'm just not that interested in warfare. He did answer me, it turns out he is from one town away from where I live. Why did I not ask any follow-up questions? I don't know, I just did not feel right.

I did manage to add to my kit. There is a pewterer (pewter smith?) in Hilsboro who had awesome spoons at reasonable prices. After 3 years, the Reischachs will finally have decent spoons! I saw a lovely local town that I had driven through many times but not actually seen, and at the very end I got to chat with someone who will hopefully be of great help in the chicken project.

So in the end I had a good day, but please people, remove the stickers from your apples.


  1. Your experiences mirror mine own, particularly when it comes to being connected to the local LH community. I have a narrow range of reenacting friends strongly influenced by the culture and time period proximity to mine. This is unfortunate because there's actually a number of reenactments in my area what with Saratoga, Fort Edward, Fort William Henry and numerous other sites within a 30 mile radius of me; but I'm just not connected.

    Last year I actually tried to increase my awareness of local LH events, but it's actually very hard. I was able to locate a couple of the groups that typically do reenactment in my area but often their websites were outdated or had only vague information about upcoming events. Trying to attack it from the venue direction didn't help much either. Even though the venue websites were typically more up to date, LH was ancillary to some other event and it wasn't actually listed.

    I was wondering if you felt out-of-sorts being AT a reenactment instead of being IN it? When I went to an F&IW event it was very odd to walk/look around and ask questions instead of doing something useful.

    I also had this strange guilt that I was being too nit-picky whenever I happened to spot something modern. But given that I've no clue about the time period I saw, it's probably fair to say that I wasn't any different in than the average person; if I spotted it, so did they.

    Finally, I believe the term "pewterer" was commonly used (despite it's odd sound) but I've also heard the term "greysmith" used too.

  2. I'm getting better at attending reenactments without being involved. One of the things I do is wear vintage and in my head I reenact a cub reporter covering the local scene. I've never admitted it to anyone, but it makes me feel better.

    I totally feel guilty being nit picky about someone else's group! That is why I never point out when aluminum cots are showing, or when the apples all have stickers. You might not know a lot about that period, but I'm sure you know enought to know that plastic flip flops are not appropriate on any impression before the 2nd half of the 20th Century.

  3. What a funny coincidence. One things I tried to do at the F&IW event I went to was treat it as a reporting assignment for my LH blog. And when that failed, I decided to look at it as a photo-op which went a bit better. :)

  4. Wow. I totally understand. Been there, done that! I went to an event this past weekend, and I thought I'd asked beforehand every question possible and necessary, and that I'd gotten all required info. HA! I forgot the all-important "Where do we sign in? Where is the initial meet-up spot?"! And so, even though I got there nice and early, I went to the wrong section of the overall area. Sure, it worked out OK in the end (everyone pretty much eventually came to where I was), but, gee, I felt like such a dope! And even though it started on a slightly sour note, it ended with a mighty HUZZAH!
    I also think it IS hard to break in to the re-enacting world. I'm usually doing "my thing" (historic cooking) at brick 'n mortar museum/historic sites, and my desire to join up with more on-the-road-type events hasn't been easy. I keep trying though! I just keep meeting new people and keep asking questions. And when I hear about, or see, an event that I'd like to be a part of, I hunt out any and every one connected and offer up my services. Yes, it takes alotta time, and I get a too many "thanks, but no thanks," but I keep on keeping on. Someone's bound to say "Yes" sooner or later. Besides, you just never know where something will lead or when or where something will develop. The event this past weekend? Not only did I finally participate in it, but I also was presented with two additional opportunities. HUZZAH! So, hang in there! Keep the faith!
    Oh, and yes...I even hear it often from others...Come on, people! Hide the modern stuff!

  5. @Carolina - So you're asking to join them and they are actively declining you?! Most groups are incredibly eager to have new members; how strange.