Is reenacting slowing down?

major bill

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#1
Now that the 150th hoopla has passed how are the numbers of Civil War reenactors fairing? Usually this kind of thing causes an up tick in numbers. The sad thing is that after the anniversaries are over the numbers are hard to maintain.
 

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Legion Para

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#2
I don't follow Mainstream events. The following gives you an idea of Campaigner events for 2017.

--Lookout Mountain Living History should be a great event: Company B 31st Iowa.

--Antietam Living History should be a great event.
WHO: The Hard Head Mess, Citizen's Guard, and Old Northwest Volunteers
WHAT: A 2 day Living History at Antietam National Battlefield, focusing on actions in the. Cornfield. There will be two impressions for this event. On Saturday, August 26, the impression will be the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry of Gibbon's Brigade. On Sunday, August 27, the impression will be the 27th Indiana Infantry of George H. Gordon's Brigade.
WHEN: August 26-27, 2017
WHERE: Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland, United States of America.
GUIDELINES: Included in the event packet attached to this post.
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Included in the event packet attached to this post.
WEBSITE: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1843384279216640

--Chickamauga Living History should be a great event: 23rd Tennessee. This should be similar to the 153rd Anniversary of Chickmauga (2nd South Carolina) event.

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/2nd-south-carolina-arrives-at-chickamauga.128626/

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Legion Para

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#3
I think @Frederick14Va answered your question nicely in this thread.

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/a-drop-in-interest-yet.125027/

During the 125th anniversary cycle there was a great deal more media coverage and interest generated during that time... The Reenactment ranks saw a considerable surge in new numbers and participation... The 150th cycle did not have the same level of national interest if any at all for many events... Less educational focus on history as well as the negative effects of the economy... The 150th did not see the growth as it had experienced in previous cycles.

The 150th, just like the 125th folks speculated an across the board near collapse of the hobby as people vacated the ranks.. In both cases the numbers "retiring" were marginal... Which seemed to begin its usual venue after 150th Gettysburg this time around rather than Appomattox as it has in the past... By the time the cycle concluded... majority of those that were planning to retire already had... So the massive predicted sudden vacuum at the end didn't really happen... Many folks did indeed take a break from the hobby... but most didn't actually leave it.... this usually takes 6-12 months for the participation levels to creep back up to normal again...

The mega events that were witnessed during the cycle are also mostly gone... being replaced with a wide array of smaller events and programs in mass... The usual offering of annual carnival events will probably always be out there.... But many folks are seeking something fresh, different, interesting, and for better quality events... At many events in the last number of months has habitually seen a bit less participation numbers... moreso because the number of events being offered has saturated the calendar... thinning the available numbers across pleura of events, rather than less participants overall...

Ive seen many of the mainstream groups reporting to have taken the biggest hit on numbers and participation for whatever assorted range of reasons... Some better than others... Interestingly the campaigner ranks continue to have grown... Also of observation is that many of the younger crowd that have entered the hobby tend to be more interested in and have joined the campaigner forte... where the average age in the rank and file tend to be closer or same as themselves.... I frequently see near whole companies of guys in the 17-20 year old range.... Some groups only participate in the same ole 4-5 carnival events year after year, that are exactly the same cowboy shoot-em up, powder burners... Many folks quickly get bored with it.. and fewer attracted to a unit if that's all they ever do... Sit around the campfire and complain of the lower participant numbers... One has to continue to actively recruit and change up the schedule to keep things interesting... Other groups build and host different offerings and events each year... and do quite well doing that... The hobby is ever evolving... need to recognize what works... and make note of what doesn't anymore... and adjust to flow with the current...
Just an opinion and observation.....
 

frontrank2

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#5
IMHO, ACW reenacting is experiencing a downward trend. Many of the " troops " have gotten out of the hobby and new recruits are few and far between. I think this has been going on for over a decade, though. I remember the 140th events having more participants than the 150th. I think when the economy tanked in 2008 and with young people being more involved with video games and the internet, fewer and fewer show an interest in living history. I don't think the hobby will die out, but I don't think there will ever be the mass participation of 10 - 15 years ago. :nah disagree:
 
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#7
I had a discussion with fellow reenactors in the Youtube comment section once. I'll quote a few lines:

Here is the horrible part. In 2000, there were about 50,000 reenactors. I enlisted in 2001. In 2015, the last year I heard numbers for, we had maybe 25,000 reenactors. This is because many ( but not all, ) officers are jerks. They backstab each other, try to steal each others paid events, and do more politicing than anything else. They also seem to believe that this is the real army. This, coupled with other, lesser factors, is killing the hobby. We need regulations, yes. But for the officers, not the enlisted men. What really makes me cry, is the fact that many officers can't fight at all.

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Aside from stealing each others paid events? Officers will frequently " forget " to notify other units of new upcoming events. Some larger organizations will encourage new units to join these large divisions, brigades, etc... stressing the benefits of supporting each other, cheaper insurance, etc... etc... etc... Then the large units force the small companies to disband and then join another already existing company. This actually happened to a unit I belonged to, about 8 or so years ago. There was also a Major General in a local federal division. He had about 15 or more staff officers always hanging around him. On the battlefield. This was stupid not only because did they get captured, a lot, but that 16+ men could've formed a company of actual fighting men. And as if that wasn't silly enough, those officers always demanded the utmost respect from all lower ranks. One staff officer I nick named Dog Leuitenant, as he always followed the Major General like a puppy dog. Last i heard, that Lt. was a Captain, which is good cause I can not spell Lt. correctly, no how. Hence my use of the abbrieviation Lt. I also heard the Maj Gen has passed away from old age and health problems. As for the staff officer, I don't give a rodents mule if he's a bloody General, President, or Field Marshal of the Turkish Navy, he's still a dog Lt. to me.These people need to understand, that if you want respect, you have to act respectable. These officers really do think this is really the military, and not a hobby. I could walk around in a General's Jacket, if I wished. But I ain't here to affirm my manliness. That I already have affirmed. I'm here to have fun, and tell the truth of this very interesting time period of our nation's history. I ain't wanting to offend the good people, but the bozos out there need to be informed of the fact that they are killing our hobby.

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Those "farbs" everyone hates so much, should be left alone. Everyone gets a couple things wrong every so often. Those nice big A-frame and wall tents you see at every event? pitch em. In the trash. If you couldn't carry it, you didn't bring it. Coolers? Whats that? Cots? How do you fit that in your haversack? And those factory rolled cigarettes? Send them back to the future with Doc and Marty. Get yourself a stogie or a home made pipe. If you people do not stand down from being so persnickity with the new recruits, there ain't gona be no new recruits. The Confederate Army and true history are already under severe attack by revisionists as it is. Killing the hobby the way many jerk officers who all seem to be suffering from small man's complaint are doing is NOT helping. Historical accuracy is important, yes. But enjoyment of the hobby, as well as it's survival, is important as well.

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We must also face the fact that the hobby is dying to many more opportunities than there in the past, and also we have central cooling, way more computers, etc. However, I economy is growing back, and it said on Wikipedia that the hobby has been slowly growing back since the 150th events. There may not be ever as many reenactors per capita as there used to be, but with a growing population let's hope that supplements the shortage. Also we need to go out there and appeal to possible recruits, you see, I had to work my *** off just to get an opportunity to reenact an event. It shouldn't be that way, regiments should go out and encourage others, not expect for people to find them. In fact, there is this one regiment who has tried that out, and their numbers are sharply increasing, with younger people being the vast majority. Technology doesn't have to go against us, we can utilize to make it for us, by using social media and the internet to reach out to others.
 

Bee

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#8
I find this to be an important topic, even though it is far from my pervue. This year during the Gettysburg anniversary, the Sacred Trust lectures have been eliminated. To understand the scope for this loss, we only need to note that a huge supply of our discussion videos come from this source. A source of outreach for our hobby (the Civil War in a larger sense) has been extinguished. I wonder if this sort of contraction makes its way to the reenacting ranks. Is there any connection? (More of a rhetorical musing on my part) When one does view these lectures, the demographic is shockingly.....White, in both hair color and ethnicity. Are reeinactors breaking this barrier? Anyhow, thanks for this discussion.
 

major bill

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#10
Are other reenacting periods also suffering a decline as well? It is posable that younger people are switching to World War Two and Vietnam.
 

major bill

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#12
I find this to be an important topic, even though it is far from my pervue. This year during the Gettysburg anniversary, the Sacred Trust lectures have been eliminated. To understand the scope for this loss, we only need to note that a huge supply of our discussion videos come from this source. A source of outreach for our hobby (the Civil War in a larger sense) has been extinguished. I wonder if this sort of contraction makes its way to the reenacting ranks. Is there any connection? (More of a rhetorical musing on my part) When one does view these lectures, the demographic is shockingly.....White, in both hair color and ethnicity. Are reeinactors breaking this barrier? Anyhow, thanks for this discussion.
Your observations are probably correct. If younger people and non whites avoid Civil War reenacting, this could bring down the number of reenactors. I would guess some units do find finding younger members while some units are less successful.
 

Irishtom29

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#13
It is posable that younger people are switching to World War Two and Vietnam.
Playing at wars still in living memory is just too weird. Playing at ancient wars or at least those gone from living memory seems far less insensitive and has a sense of fantasy missing from playing at being in the Waffen SS.
 

major bill

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#14
I do not have data, but around here it seems like many people are reenacting World War Two. I see less doing Vietnam.
 
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#15
My daddy is still living and is a WWII vet. I knew guys who died in Vietnam. Somehow it seems to soon to reenact either of those wars.

And my home Civil War reenacting company is doing fine, about the same size it's been since I joined in 1998.
 

Craig L Barry

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#16
What I have said for years (because the decline in participation has been going on for years) is "how many like-minded individuals do you need at an event to enjoy yourself?" I find plenty of opportunity to get out just about as often as I can reasonably expect to do so. And while I primarily do small scale events like living history and historic weapons demos out at the battlefield parks because I enjoy those a lot more than mainstream reenactments, there are about the same number of opportunities to get out in the field as before. What I have found at events is fewer and fewer guys out there and as my peer group naturally ages out, there are not that many younger guys coming up behind us to fill in the ranks. The battlefield parks face budget constraints and they are cutting back sometimes to Saturday only vs the whole weekend. Where that leads one can only guess, but I am enjoying myself as much as ever and there are still more events I would like to do than I can actually attend.

The battlefield park where I attend most often (STRI) just asked me to assist with rolling black powder rounds and making arsenal packs for events in the coming months. I have provided 640 rounds (64 arsenal packs) so far and I have another 500 (50 arsenal packs) or so still to make up. That's a lot of rounds. Obviously the battlefield park plans on using at least that number for upcoming events this summer. In summary, I suppose it gets down to quantity vs quality, and there are plenty of good quality events (more than I can attend) so no problem for me.
 
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bdtex

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#17
FWIW,I attended the Port Hudson re-enactment last weekend and stormy weather cut down on the Saturday battle but there were a fair number of young men in the ranks. That was encouraging.
 

Dave Hull

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#18
The number of fellas I have seen over the last few years seem to be a tad lighter than previous years but it seems like there are many more events. I managed 28 events in 2016, 27 in 2015 and 26 in 2014, with everything from LH's, Campaigner to mega events. My preference is the Campaigner or Campaign like events, always seems to be more fun, even though the weather is usually horrid. The young guys I have encountered over the last few years are truly striving to get things right and have a high degree of dedication. While they might not hit the high 20's, it seems like the young pups are getting out there to about 15 or 16 events per year.
 

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