Region plans 'Olympics of the Civil War' for 2000

November 13, 1997

Region plans 'Olympics of the Civil War' for 2000


Staff Writer

As the smoke clears from the success of the 135th Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam, tourism officials and legislators in four states have begun planning a series of Civil War re-enactments for the year 2000.

State Del. D. Bruce Poole said Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia officials are considering organizing a two-week "Olympics of the Civil War" with re-enactments in each state, or a coordinated series of events spread out over several months.

Poole said the event would take advantage of the "magic of the millennium," and provide a major marketing opportunity.

"We could really market this on an international level and try to establish ourselves as the region to come to for the Civil War," he said.


Poole and State Sen. Donald F. Munson are chairing a committee that is looking into the possibility of a millennium Civil War commemoration, and officials from each state's office of tourism will meet in January to begin planning.

Poole and Munson said the success of this year's Antietam re-enactment has made it more likely that governments will loosen their purse strings for future events.

The Washington County Commissioners also support the effort.

"I think Washington County is going to take the lead on this, because we're the hub," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

Committee member Mike Wicklein, of Hagerstown, said the event could be more than a series of re-enactments. It could include plays, seminars, lectures and other events, he said.

Also discussed was the possibility of expanding Virginia's Civil War Trail into the other three states.

Snook said the local Metropolitan Planning Organization, which includes Washington County in Maryland and Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virgina, has allocated between $10,000 and $20,000 to map out a strategy to promote Civil War sites and pay for tourism-related road signs.

Don Warlick, re-enactment and site coordinator for the 135th, said he has been looking at what would work from a re-enactor's perspective.

"The hard-core guys will really eat this up," he said. "It's exciting. It's different." He said a combination of a four-state re-enactment week and year-long programs could satisfy everybody.

Poole said he didn't want to overdo Civil War tourism. "I am not somebody who wants to see this done every year. I want to keep it special."

Greg Larsen, coordinator for the 135th, said that the logistics of a four-state event would be "hugely complicated," but said the events would have the potential to yield major benefits.

Area re-enactors said they would be interested in participating in at least part of the event.

Marty Mettille, a union re-enactor in Hagerstown, said the needs of re-enactors should be considered in the planning for any event.

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