By Ryan Cornell
MIDDLETOWN -- This past weekend's reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators and about 3,000 reenactors, according to Mike Kehoe, president of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation.
Kehoe said the amount of visitors coming to watch the annual event records as one of the biggest weekends they've had in the past few years. Those visitors ranged in age from 2 to 80 years old.
"I would say it was across the board," Kehoe said about the ages of the spectators. "I saw the grandfathers, I saw the parents and I saw the children." He noted that two busloads of senior citizens were brought in to witness the reenactment.
He said that Cedar Creek is listed as one of the top 10 reenactments in the country.
"It's not the largest event, but it's the largest of the annual events," he said.
He said people seemed to enjoy the wagon rides that traveled around the campsites, a first for Cedar Creek.
This year also marked the first time that a fort was built on the battlefield. Modeled after Fort Milroy, which defended Winchester during the Battle of Second Winchester, the structure was used to simulate the attack on the fort.
Although there hasn't been a decision made on the future of the fort, Kehoe said it won't be coming down immediately.
"We're happy with the results and how everything turned out," he said.
Kehoe said they experienced a problem when one reenactor fell off of his horse and was sent to the hospital for observation -- he was released soon after.
Brian Scheulen, treasurer of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, said reenactors paid up to $30 to participate in the battle. He said the money goes toward paying off the loan on the battlefield and an adjacent property featuring the trenches of the Union 19th Corps.
He said he saw visitors from across the world at the reenactment.
"There were license plates from everywhere," he said. "Somebody paid me in Euros."
Pat Kehoe, a foundation volunteer, credited some of the success to the numerous volunteers who helped out this weekend, including a dozen students from the history club at Sherando High School and three troops of Boy Scouts: Troop 2 from Winchester, and Troop 91 from Arden, W.Va., and Troop 1212 from Front Royal. He said Carmeuse Lime and Stone paid for some of their employees to help guide cars in the battlefield's parking area.
"Middletown opens up for this whole community here," he said.
He said this is like a homecoming for the reenactors.
"Even though they might be from Pennsylvania or New York, they get to see buddies and it's the end of the year and this is the last and biggest battle for the rest of the year," he said.
The foundation is beginning to plan for next year's sesquicentennial of the battle. Pat Kehoe said the reenactment will be a three-day event, stretching from Friday to Sunday.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org