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War Is Hale 

Hale Farm and Village

If the lackluster appeal of a typical weekend has you yawning, perhaps a war would be a nice change of pace. This weekend, Hale Farm and Village will host Union and Confederate troops, facing off in hopes of refreshing memories of the bloodiest war ever fought on U.S. soil.

"We might do a few different scenarios, but we'll probably do something like Pickett's Charge," explains Union sponsor Major Burdell Waffler, a member of the 7th Ohio X.O. "We want to show something with a mass kill."

The half-hour skirmish will contain up to 200 troops ready to work out their differences. Visitors can rubberneck the carnage as the armies clash in hopes of taking Wheatfield, the 1860s living history village at Hale Farm.

"I suppose I got interested in reenactments in 1961," Waffler recalls. "I was just thinking, 'Let's go out and shoot some black gunpowder.' But then I really got into teaching people."

If deadly warfare isn't quite your speed, you can always take sides at a vintage baseball game or a pie-eating contest, or pop in on Sutlers Row, where Civil War memorabilia collectors can haggle over artifacts. If all else fails, shoot over to besieged Wheatfield and watch as actors recreate the lives and times of abolitionists, opinionated ministers, and creepy slave owners.

"Reliving those times is an experience that is related to the heritage of our country," Waffler says. "People have a passion about it. When a few of these women get dressed, they strip down to the buff and proceed to put each layer of clothing on exactly as they would have back then. We're out there preserving our history."

But don't think history dictates that betting on the Union army is safe. "Sometimes the Confederates'll win and sometimes we will," Waffler explains. "We like to keep it fair."

Just make sure you root for the good guys.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Keith Gribbins


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