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Historical Reenactment Organizations in the Twin Cities

Clann Tartan pikemen at the Ferguson wedding

First, a brief word for those who wandered over here not knowing what that headline refers to.

Historic reenactors are people who portray the people of another time. We put on the costumes and use reproductions of the artifacts of that time, and then engage in the same activities as the people we portray. Reenactments are often thought of as mock battles, but in fact they as often or more often entail portrayals of camp life or, when an event takes place at a reconstructed or renovated historic site, we might be portraying garrison life, life in a town, or a household. We show the ordinary person's everyday life rather than the big events that are the subjects of history books and movies. We're a lot more accurate than the movies to boot.

Most events are open to the general public, and the public may avail themselves of the opportunity to see history up close. They may get to talk to the reenactors, either as themselves or the role they are playing that day. It's even possible for the public to try some things themselves. Help a "mechanic" in his work, help the cooks prepare the meal, or join in learning the drill.

Those who actually become reenactors get a more thorough education than they might ever have dreamed of. Depending on the period, we might have built most of costumes and artifacts, acquiring new "old" skills in the process. We get an experiencial understanding of living without electricity or running water, and almost everyone's curiousity drives them to become something of a bookworm.

These are groups that are based in the Twin Cities with information on how to reach them. If you're a member of a group that isn't here or for which the cnotact information is wrong, you may safely assume I don't know about it. So tell me.

CLANN TARTAN is a Scottish group portraying a time when the kilt was still everyday clothing rather than something romanticized. Our focus is on the year 1630, during the 30 Years War, when many Scots and other peoples in the British Isles were being recruited to fight in the Swedish army under King Gustavus Adolphus. He was recruiting an army to invade Germany in defense of the Protestant cause---as well as grab some German land for Sweden. We have also participated in English Civil War events. Our events generally consist of encampments with drills with muskets, pikes, and swords, a large camp kitchen, a tavern, and demonstrations of period crafts. It's not necessary to be Scottish or even Celtic to join. Given the nature of the 30 Years War, it's been a simple matter to mix in portrayals of Germans, Welsh and Irish, and Swedes and English would fit right in to the time. Being a long-time member of this group and the current Captain, I'm a good one to contact.

LA COMPAGNIE DES HIVERNANTS DE LA RIVIERE ST. PIERRE is French for "The Company of Winterers of the St. Peter's River", St. Peter's being the former name for the Minnesota River. We are fur trade reenactors, portraying the late 18th to the middle 19th century. Our events should not be confused with what are known as buckskinner rendezvous. We usually set up camps or occupy the buildings of an historic site, or perhaps a park near what was once a "Voyaguers' Highway". We portray the engagés (employees) of a fur company, either at a post or a rendezvous, and demonstrate the work required in the fur trade, as well as some liesure activities (not necessarily what you'd expect).

UPPER MISSISSIPPI BRIGADE, 1812 is, as I would hope the name implies, a group of War of 1812 reenactors. We (yes, I'm a member of this one too; busy boy, ain't I?) portray different military units, depending on the occasion. Members can portray as many as they can make costumes for. There are two somewhat autonomous organizations within this umbrella: the Mississippi Volunteers, who were employees of the Northwest Fur Company who formed a militia on the British side, and the Seventh Infantry, a unit of American regulars. Members of these groups have also portrayed various American militias and American sailors, and other portrayals would certainly be welcome. Contact me for this one too.

THE FIRST MINNESOTA portrays the first regiment raised in Minnesota for the Civil War, and has portrayed other units when the occasion demanded. Civil War events frequently have large battle reenactments, but they also participate in events at historic sites where they portray the garrison. If you're intersted in making films, Civil War reenactors seem to make more that all other groups put

THE VIKING AGE CLUB was founded in 1987 to study all aspects of the history, culture, and everyday life in Scandinavia from c.750 to 1100 by means of research, experimentation, and recreation. They pass on this knowledge to members of the organization and to the general public so as to promote a more complete understanding of early Scandinavian culture. Contact Gary Anderson

THE QUICKSTEPS play "baseball as it was meant to be played", which means they play it as it was played in the middle 19th century, before the pros took over. They dress in uniforms of the time and play matches at historical and civic events, using rules from 1858. Contact Erik Reinikka.

THE LIVING HISTORY SOCIETY portrays civilian life around the 1860's, sometimes with the First Minnesota or other reenactments. They also put on displays at historic sites rfom their period. Contact Crystal Weinhold, Secretary.

THE TWIN CITY MUZZLELOADING CLUB holds a variety of blackpowder shooting events throughout the year, the biggest event being the Eagle Creek Rendezvous at Murphy's Landing in Shakopee during Memorial Day. Besides shooting events, they have a traders row, cooking demonstrations, and other fur trade era skills contests. Contact Kathy Scozzari, president.

THE COALITION OF HISTORICAL TREKKERS (MINNESOTA CHAPTER) is a group reenacting the pre-1840 frontier of America. This is accomplished by experimentation in wilderness situations, using firearms, clothing and accoutrements of our forefathers. Not a group to sit still too long, the CoHT hits the trail throughout Minnesota. The Superior Hiking Trail, Kekakabic Trail, Grand Portage Trail and many other State and National Parks serve as our proving grounds. Contact Karl A Koster.

THE 55TH REGIMENT OF FOOT portrays British regulars in the American Revolution. They're part of the Northwest Territory Alliance. Contact Lorne Knutson.

soldiers at Historic Fort Snelling