So Lucy and Molly and I went up to Locust Grove this last weekend and saw the event they called '18th Century THUNDER'. It basically amounted to a large encampment of troops... an event somewhat smaller than their Trade Fair in October.

It was quite an experience to goto an event like this as a tourist... I never just get to look and see what the public sees and do what the average person off the street does.

First of all, I finally got to take the tour of the house itself, which was great! It was MUCH larger on the inside than it looked from the outside... three floors. My girls were very interested too, I like to think that the knowledge and interest they showed stems from their participation in reenacting with me. They asked smart questions and made some great observations for two little girls aged 11 & 8.

Of course, I couldn't help but ask some of my 'favorite' questions of the reenactors present before I would introduce myself to them.

"Is that real fire?"

"Aren't you hot in those costumes?"

"Are you really gonna eat that?"

One reenactor was so disgusted by my questions she literally rolled her eyes at me...

In other parts of the camp I REALLY started to see the FARBY stuff (AKA: Non Period Stuff or NPS). And it wasn't the typical NPS that you see in a camp, the stuff that's covered by blankets so the public can't see it, you know, coolers, modern cots or plastic grocery bag with snack food... etc.

I walked into one tent (invited by the fellows inside of course) and took a look at a small folding table that they had set up with some items to view, everything very artfully arranged for the public like a little museum display. Right there on top of this very carefully laid out display was a plastic Ziploc bag and a stack of photographs, obviously taken at various events.

Then at another spot, I saw that one fellow was eating out of a plastic Cool Whip container... and of course I also noticed ALL the modern glasses, modern shoes and so forth.

Now, if it sounds like I'm dogging the event... forgive me, that's not my intention at all. We had alot of fun!

I mention these things because they have caused me to stop and consider my OWN interpretation with greater scrutiny, and a more critical eye.

My opinion on the whole matter is this: you spend all this money to get the outfit, gear, guns, tent etc... in many cases by the time you've spent all this money, you're out several thousand dollars... why would you negate all that effort and research and money spent by having FARB laying out for everyone to see?

I mean an accidental glimpse is one thing... but having it laying right out in the open? I'm guilty of having modern-ish or incorrect stuff laying out when the public comes by, but I'm also VERY careful to cover it up as quickly as I can if they stop to talk to me.

I will be spending some time this week in thought about what things I carry with me that detract from MY interpretation. I want people to leave an event and remember the things I said and taught them, not to be distracted by the 21st century stuff that was seen laying around my camp.


Kate said...

Thank you for this interesting glimpse from the viewer's side! I am a very new (never been to an event) 18th c. re-enactor, and I'm trying very hard to learn from people further along in their research.

Chole said...

Oh Doctor, how could you, asking those dreaded questions to a fellow reenactor, while in disguise no less. I would never have thought you to have such a devilish streak in you!


W. A. Mozart said...

Bravo mein Freund! Every performer needs to be heckled from time-to-time in order to keep from becoming careless or jaded. It is probably a good thing, however, that you did not resort to chucking cabbages at them!

AJ said...

I just adore those questions. Military re-enactors in disguise as a tourist love to ask what a cannon or a musket is before introducing ourselves.

I thank you as well for writing a post from the other side. It is something we re-enactors need to remember at events. The idea is to create a mindset...if you are doing your job properly, the sight of a vehicle or sound of a cell phone ringing should startle you! Then you are immersed in history and can immerse visitors as well.

Fantastic Forrest said...


Sweet post. Especially the pride you take in your girls. :-)

But I wanted to know what FARB stands for. I found two possibilities at

That it is a contraction of the phrase "'Far be' it for me to criticize anyone, but..." That it comes from the German word farbe ("color"). (Many fabrics dyed with modern dyes are "too colorful" to be authentic, by comparison with their historical originals.) That it stems from the rating of a reenactor's portrayal as "'Far below'" the standard. There exists a letter dated 1 April 1863 from an A.R. Crawford in the 76th Illinois Infantry, Co D, that uses the phrase, "fallacious accoutrements & reprehensible baggage," in description of six children posing in phony military gear during a sham reenactment that took place during the actual Civil War. Many point to this phrase as the origin of the word, citing "farb" as an acronym.

Which one do you favor?

The Doctor said...

Oh fantastic!

I've never given the term this much thought before... I was told when I first heard it that it was derived from "Far be it from me...". But I LOVE the acronym version "fallacious accoutrements & reprehensible baggage".

I will have to look into this further!