The following letter was written by Shelley Peters,
ACWS Civilian Corps Director,
(used by permission.)
On behalf of the "Remembrance" Fall Fair and School of the Soldier committee, I wish to say "thank you" to all who participated and made this event such a fun day and a rousing success!
By the time darkness fell on Friday evening, there was quite a Town Square set up on the Green at Riley's Farm in Oak Glen. We had Town Merchants, we had General's Homes, we had a Hospital, a Blacksmith's Shop, a Weaver and a Soapmaker. We had the Little White House and the US Balloon Corps. We had a church, more homes and the Young Ladies School of Gentility and Refinement. Our Military Recruiter was at one end of town and the Society of Sobriety set up a Temperance Booth at the other. By the time the town opened on Saturday morning to a perfectly beautiful day, we had a bookstore, an artifact Museum, strolling musicians and a bandstand. Dignitaries like Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Charles Dana Secretary of War, General Grant, General Lee, General J.E.B. Stuart, General Pickett, General Stonewall Jackson, and General Ord were discussing very important issues of the day in the Square. Mary Todd Lincoln and LaSalle Corbell Pickett were there to support their husbands and talk about their lives and families. Four fine steeds with soldiers astride in their dashing uniforms were seen prancing about. There were more soldiers drilling in anticipating of going to do their duty to fight the war.
All day, to the announcement of the Town Crier, the townspeople were sharing their knowledge, from infants clothing to fashionable clothing, from dancing etiquette to storytelling, from Penny rugs and quilting to that new-fangled sewing machine, from spies and railroads to journalists. There were personal stories told by a spinster, a widow, a former soldier, and correspondence between soldiers and their loved ones. Even John Burns of Gettysburg awoke from his nap to tell his story.
There were fine, usable items in the White Elephant Sale and the Box Lunch Auction Social was a hit among visitors (the Widow's basket was won by a bachelor, but alas, a confirmed one) and the bidders at the Blind Bargain Auction ended up with fine pieces of history, the highlight of which was an original piece of hot air balloon fabric.
Children played "Graces", rolled hoops in the streets, and made bonnets while the carnival games were going on. And then the Grand Parade began. I have never been so thrilled as I was when I heard the Mountain Fife and Drum Corps lead our soldiers out to parade around the Town. What a fine sight and sound they were to behold! And when the Brigade Brass Band started up it kept the whole Town in a festive mood. Later in the afternoon, minstrels and the Slackjaw brothers were heard with their folk tunes. A jar of Grandma's Homemade Jam, made from peaches grown at the 1860 Whaley House in Old Town San Diego, won first place in the Culinary Arts Jam & Jelly contest, and a delicious chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries received first place in the dessert division.
To top the day off, a candlelight dinner was served by beautiful gracious ladies in ballgowns, and then the Blue Gray Ball began. A fun evening was had by all!
Sunday morning, after a hearty breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy and coffee, a church service was held in the shade. Capt. Ellis Spear told us a tearful story of the famous hymn and then sung a beautiful rendition of "It is Well With My Soul". Reverend Gurley gave us a sermon using his trials of the weekend as a lesson in Trust and God's Providence.
We all learned how to develop our character using accents and creating stories from our past in the class Michele Phillips taught. Wendy then taught us how to do Ribbon Braiding and all were invited to Tea and Goodies and Shopping.
It was a most enjoyable weekend, with over 150 ACWS members and invited Living History Guests participating. There was plenty of fun, enthusiasm and learning going on!
We hope to see you all next year at the "Remembrance" Fall Fair and School of the Soldier!
Tom Atkins, Military Liaison
Wendy Atkins, Civilian Liaison
Shelley Peters, ACWS Civilian Corps Director
This page was last updated on 15 May 2009.
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