Van Raalte Farm, Holland, Michigan
So, apparently, there's a Civil War event in Holland. Color me surprised. Now, I don't feel too badly about not knowing this, because it's only a three-year-old event, so I wasn't living in Holland anymore by the time it got off the ground. It's put on by the Holland Museum, and I think it's got a lot of potential.
Because Holland is so very close to home as far as reenactments go, my mom, Samantha, and I decided to make a day trip of it. We got there too late to see the battle or anything, but I will say that the venue, Van Raalte Farm Park, is really lovely. I have vague memories of hiking there from when I was 12 or so, but I'd forgotten what a lovely park it is. The original home built by Benjamin Van Raalte (son of Holland's founder) still stands on the site, and there are dozens of beautifully-maintained trails to wander in addition, of course, to the normal attractions of a modestly sized reenactment.
On the porch of the Van Raalte house
Because we arrived later in the afternoon, we did miss some of the larger scheduled demonstrations, like the daily battle. We wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything, so we made our way through all the camps--there were separate areas for civilian and military for both Union and Confederate troops, as well as a special impressions area, several presentations on the porch of the house, as well as a handful of sutlers.
On the battlefield...
Even though there was no battle going on.
Now, I'm not here to review the event, per se, but I do want to mention that (typical of Holland), the whole place was immaculately maintained and everyone was very friendly. With a location like Van Raalte Farm, the event could easily accommodate much higher numbers of reenactors and public alike, and I'd really love to see this event grow in the future! We actually shared a shuttle bus with the chairman of the event, and Samantha and I mentioned that we thought it'd be fun to participate next year, perhaps with a special impression of some sort. He seemed really positive about new ideas, and encouraged us to contact the museum for next year. How exciting! :D
After we'd walked our way through a good portion of the park, we decided hey--why not take a trip out to the lake, since we're so close? So we piled back into the good ol' Focus wagon and headed out to Holland State Park.
Not pictured: "Big Red," the famous Holland Lighthouse
(Seriously--Google "big red lighthouse" and see what you get...
Enjoying the shade
All in all, quite a wonderful day of seeing the sights! There are tons more pictures at my Flickr set if you're interested, and I also have photos for a bit of a how-to for 1860s hair. I have a unit drill day across the state for my 1812 group tomorrow, but stay tuned for more of this madness soon!