HALLSVILLE — The popular Heritage Festival and Battle of Fort Crawford re-enactment hosted in Harrison County each fall has been cancelled this year, organizer and committee member Rob Key confirmed on Wednesday.
Key said the festival’s committee members posted a letter on the Battle of Fort Crawford Facebook page announcing the cancellation and listing several causes, including a waning interest from area public schools due to the current political climate, trouble fundraising due to the political climate and scheduling conflicts with other popular battle re-enactments in other states at the time of the festival.
“Getting together in honor of those who fought and died for the cause on the first weekend in October will be sorely missed,” the letter from the committee members reads. “Several underlying causes are responsible for the cancellation of the Batlle of Fort Crawford. Across the country, we see these events and other pieces of U.S. history are slowly disappearing. Among the citizens of this country, there seems to be diminishing patriotism, appreciation of true history, and pride in our forefathers, veterans and nation.”
The festival was founded as a way to commemorate the Civil War battle that “could have been but never was” at Hallsville’s Fort Crawford.
The committee’s letter pointed to the hostile current political climate, especially with any event or monument related to the Civil War.
“Historically themed events are experiencing a decrease in financial and community support, as well as a lack of volunteers, both inside and outside the re-enactor hobby,” the letter said. “Sponsorship and financial resources become more challenging and difficult to attain each year. Political correctness and fear of negative business impact causes potential sponsors to shy away from supporting events portraying the Civil War era. Businesses and corporations may lose touch with local core values and beliefs to avoid criticism.”
The committee also cited a fear of local schools to be involved in hands-on learning with a Civil War theme.
“Schools have become reluctant to allow students to participate in a living history school day to experience sights, sounds, smells and knowledge from the Civil War era,” the letter said. “The administrators of these schools are faced with potential backlash or criticism created by distortion of the historical background of this era.”
The committee members thanked the landowners who have allowed them to host the event on their properties the past several years and also thanked all of the volunteers and re-enactors who have traveled to participate in the event each fall.
The festival started off on the first Friday of each October, which was for students only, followed by a day open to the public on Saturday and a church service open to the public on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of re-enactors and historians from across the nation camped out all weekend each year to live as soldiers would have during the Civil War and Reconstruction era.
A big hit at the festival each year was the replica cannon “Thunder,” fired throughout the event.
Key is now turning his focus to the Hallsville Sesquicentennial Celebration, where he is overseeing the Living History event that will be set up across the street from Hallsville City Hall. The event will feature Living History displays of military and civilian life during 1869 and will also feature Native American dancers. The Hallsville Sesquicentennial Celebration is set for Oct. 24-27 in downtown Hallsville to celebrate the city’s 150th birthday.