7 LESSER KNOWN REENACTMENT SOCIETIES
And three that didn’t make the cut–even with my low standards
I’ve always been intrigued by people who participate in Civil War groups and Renaissance Fairs. Their dedication to historical knowledge and accuracy impresses me. I suppose I’m a fan of passion in action–regardless of what form it takes. Still, I feel that with a little more imagination, more people could find their joy in reenacting. Though both the American Civil War and the European Renaissance were excellent times to die of disease or be killed (the understandably un-reenacted parts), these aren’t interesting to everyone. Other, just as horrific events to re-live and celebrate, exist. Here are reenactment societies I would like to see:
The 1967 County Fair Faire: Truly dangerous rides will be erected in a hot, empty field surrounded by pig farms and DDT residue. Participants can choose to be lecherous carnies running from the law, naive teenagers looking for absolutely anything to do in rural America, freak show talent, pickle contest participants, or goats. Be the Bearded Lady! Seduce a corn-fed teen! Beat Aunt Bee with your pickles! Be butchered! And remember, at the end of the day you get all the elephant ears and snuck-in Boone’s Farm you can handle. That will make the unattended tilt-a-whirl even more exciting.
The Heyday of Child Labor Festival: Why should Chinese children have all the fun? This family-oriented event will allow parents to play the roles of various robber barons and swea tshop sociopaths while exerting control of their otherwise sassy children. The kids themselves will be stars of the day. Send them down the mine shaft to retrieve the nickel you dropped. Taunt them with gruel and stale bread as they sit behind sewing machines for twelve-hour shifts. “You think this is hard,” you can yell. “Wait until you get home.” Yes, this festival will last day and night to maximize the bonding time you will enjoy as a family. Once “home,” the children will cook and clean for you before you get drunk and they leave to engage in street crimes and random acts of hooliganism.
Society for the Preservation and Memory of Bad Prom Dates: This group will gather on the first Saturday following the first Friday in May each year at the well-preserved Holly’s Landing Restaurant and Ballroom attached to the slightly moldy yet historically accurate Holiday Inn outside Cleveland. Members are invited to reenact their own bad prom dates while helping others rediscover their own misery–that special sort of wailing emotional pain one loses the ability to experience after a certain age. Society members who skipped their high-school proms or are unable to kidnap their long-ago dates will play supporting roles in the dramas. Need someone to act as the person who stole your date away during the first slow dance? One of the members will do this for you. Everyone can join in on the fun if mass humiliation is needed. Did you get a bucket of blood dropped on your head just as you were named prom queen? Everyone will join and laugh. It couldn’t have just happened in a movie. This year’s theme: Best Day of My Life.
Relive Your Personal Moments of Betrayal Day. This annual event will take place in April, the cruelest month. This is a much more generalized group than the prom group with hopes to reignite a much deeper and more mature feeling of despair. Members will act out their own dramas in the places in which they originally occurred and then respond to them accordingly. Video sharing will be encouraged. Once you join, you must repeat the recreation every year. Exceptions can be made for those that experience a more traumatic betrayal between RPMB Days. Death is the only way to leave the group. .
When You Were Younger and Could Eat All Day and Not Get Fat Reenactors of America. Everyone over the age of thirty is invited to participate, but those who lost their metabolism early are free to join as guests. Eat anything and everything like you are a teenager raiding your parents’ refrigerator on the way to The Game. You like chocolate milk? Fill a tray with glasses. Want to eat dessert first? Who wouldn’t? Save the best for first, we say. The beauty of this club is that it will not limit itself to one major gathering or even to a series of small gatherings. Members can celebrate and relive their metabolic youthfulness every day of the year at every hour of the day! Simply go to the Rio Carnival in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada, pay the dues at the cashier and enjoy the World Buffet, the longest and largest buffet in the world. Grab one of everything, and then grab two. The only catch is that you will gain weight. You will just be acting like you won’t. And that bit of self-delusion is worth the cost of admission.
The Jerry Ford 1976 Victory Party that Never Was Reenactment Society. You know this would have been a great time. There’s no party like a Jerry Ford party, as the expression used to go. This group will meet every year at the Amway Grand in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, the place I will suppose this event was scheduled but am too lazy to look up. Members will cosplay mid-1970s Republicans–red, white, and blue leisure suits, super-wide lapels, poofy hair for the ladies, big ol’ mud chops for the men, giant lapel carnations for everyone. Come as Betty Ford or that actor son of his from the old soap operas! Come as a disgruntled Reagan supporter looking to spoil the party. Want to be Bob Dole? All you have to do is hold a pen. The event will start festive with much chanting and champaign drinking. Debates will break out as to whether “four more years” is an appropriate thing to yell, given that Ford hasn’t yet served four. Can it be four more? These spirited debates will dissolve into sadness as the news that a peanut farmer has beaten the star Michigan football player spreads through the crowd. Bring tissues. And a “WIN” button.
Jonestown Revisited Tour Package: For those that want to wrap a vacation in with their reenactment hobby, this is your group. Study up on the history of the People’s Temple (indoctrination materials provided) and pack your authentic shabby tourist gear for the trip of a lifetime to the lush tropical paradise of north Guyana. Sure, you die at the end, but before that, you get to labor in the heat, listen to endlessly fascinating speeches, and fill your buckets with awe in the presence of Jim Jones. This trip will include complete access to celebrity Jim Jones impersonator, and former star Elvis impersonator, Nic Cage. For an extra fee, you can shoot at helicopters. Free Kool-Aid, of course.
Didn’t Make the Cut: Ted Bundy Murder Spree Across America Traveling Reenactment Society, The Sit in Your Basement and Download Porn on a Dial-Up Connection Weekend, and the Nic Cage Movie Reenactorment Assemblage.