|Belleville - A Civilian Reenactment|
Belleville has been conceived as an event of nine days duration in which reenactors explore the dynamics of village life c. 1764 on the marginal overlap of a shifting frontier, that area where British colonials encounter French habitants, differing tribes, and nearly limitless opportunities. The physical setting of Belleville has been Old Bedford Village, Bedford, Pennsylvania, an area where such a frontier could have existed, but conceptually, this frontier overlap includes the margins from Quebec to the Mississippi to the Tennessee River drainage.
The time frame is equally transitional: it stretches F & I War reenactors as well as Revolutionary War reenactors.
Following the defeat of Pontiac, some Canadian French habitants relocated to more southerly frontier areas. Some French habitants had been living in these outpost communities for generations. But with the conclusion of hostilities, population pressure along the seacoast pushed British colonials into these same areas. For a few years, the generation that fought the F&I War lived with the generation who would fight the Rev War; and on the frontier, all participants lived in close enough proximity to each other that interplay between ethnicities was necessary.
Conceptually, Belleville is a non-military event. No large battles will take place although the community's militia might well drill during a week of fine spring weather. What will occur is the dressmaker will make dresses, and the blacksmith will sharpen ploughshares, and the merchant will sell flour and beans, flints and pins. Reenactors, in first person roles, will go about village life as they might have c. 1764, with a sermon preached on Sundays while maybe an itinerant priest delivers the sacraments at the other end of town. Therefore, Belleville is unique, as unlike any other event as one person is from another.
Belleville will be a juried event, with every effort made to include the broadest spectrum of participants. After all, what sort of a village would Belleville be if all males were blacksmiths and all females dyers and weavers? Yes, blacksmiths and dyers and weavers would have been present, and such reenactors are needed. But a butcher is also needed, as is a physician/barber. Storekeepers and housefraus and farmers and carpenters and metalsmiths would all have been in a community. First person reenactors in every documentable role are needed to make the village atmosphere as complete as possible.
What Belleville isn't is a craft demonstration or a Traders' Row. Crafts people and merchants are needed as members of the community, but the object of the event isn't to "show-off" a skill or turn a profit. There will certainly be plenty of opportunities to display a learned craft as the event will be open to the public, as well as there will be opportunities to sell a person's wares. The emphasis, however, will be on becoming a community, each reenactor becoming a functioning cog in that community.
Come, live with us in Belleville
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Site updated 03/04/2011.