January 5, 2016
“The park’s 220 acres are ideal for such an event,” stated J.R. Sharp, a Confederate reenactor whose Company B of the 1st Tennessee Infantry camped at Brookside last year. Captain Sharp commands Company B, has been reenacting for two decades, and is on the committee organizing the event.
“There is no question that the park’s unique terrain features, including Tawawa Creek, Amos Lake, the valley and the overlooking bluffs will provide both the reenactors and spectators with a unique experience,” agreed Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst. Barhorst, a former history teacher and avid history buff, is chairing the organizing committee.
“For more than fifteen years, I have spoken often with Sidney native Doug Slagel about how we could organize such an event,” Shelby County Historical Society Executive Director Tilda Phlipot explained. Phlipot is also a member of the organizing committee.
“With many of the reenactors involved in major events leading up to the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial, there simply didn’t seem to be a way to move into a crowded field. With the Civil War’s 150th anniversary now behind us, reenactors are now open to new events.” Phlipot stated.
Slagel, who has been active as a Union reenactor for more than 20 years, agreed. “We are looking at a biennial event – one that would fit the off-years with the event held at Zoar Village. Reenactors like to be able to schedule their time, and this would provide them the opportunity to schedule vacation at the same time each year, heading to Shelby County one year and to Tuscarawas County the next.”
In addition to Union and Confederate units camping at the park, there will also be civilian units. Elizabeth Topping, who has been reenacting as a period civilian for twenty-two years, is serving as a member of the organizing committee with emphasis on the civilian camp. “New events are always a challenge,” Topping stated, “but we’ve been meeting to pull together the many facets of such an event, and I know that reenactors and those who attend will have an enjoyable experience.”
“We chose the fall for a number of reasons,” Barhorst noted. “As it turned out, the date we looked at in the spring was the date that Ohio Village has traditionally hosted their Civil War reenactment. After deciding to move to the fall, Ohio Village cancelled their event this year. Had we selected the weekend, it would have been open. Despite that, the fall just seemed to be a better time for the park in that the sound of gunfire would not disturb the wildlife as much, especially nesting birds.”
“While we are still in the planning stages, we expect to have an interactive website fully operational by the end of January so that event information is available to both reenactors and spectators,” Sharp stated. When he is not commanding the 1st Tennessee Company B, Sharp is an end-user computing technician with the Kettering Health Network.
The event is being funded in part through a grant from the City’s Lodging Tax, administered through the Shelby County Historical Society. “The Lodging Tax was levied to raise funds to help bring tourists to the community,” Barhorst stated. “We are looking at a variety of events that are family-friendly and will encourage travelers to come to the community. We believe that the Civil War Living History Weekend is such an event.”