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Antietam re-enactment called a success

September 17, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Although Sunday's rainy weather may have kept some people away, organizers and vendors Monday said the 140th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam was a success.

Overall, the event went better than the 135th anniversary re-enactment, in part because a second public traffic entrance was added, Washington County Planning Director Robert Arch said Monday. Arch was co-chairman of the Antietam Commemoration Committee, the event's organizing sponsor.

"I thought we had an exceptional event. All of the re-enactments were of better quality than (those) of 1997. We had better merchandise and a better variety of merchandise than in 1997," said Dennis Frye, the committee's co-chairman.

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Sales at Confederate Yankee, which sold Civil War uniforms and women's clothing at the re-enactment, were better than five years ago, owner Dennis Semrau of Guilford, Conn., said Monday. He said he thought that overall, the event went better than the 1997 re-enactment.

Frye said the only major problem over the weekend was a weather forecast that predicted rain, keeping perhaps as many as 20,000 people from attending the event. As it turned out, he said, rain fell as an intermittent drizzle.

Frye and others said the rain had a positive impact: It reduced the amount of dust, making breathing easier.

Site Manager Don Warlick said about 4,000 people attended Sunday's events.

"If people get up and they don't have a blue sky they go to the movies," Warlick said.

Until the rain came, Warlick said, he had expected Sunday's crowd to equal the minimum of 25,000 people who turned out Saturday, he said. An estimated 10,000 people watched Friday afternoon's re-enactment and 2,500 school children visited the site earlier Friday.

About 13,400 re-enactors registered for the event, including about 11,000 military re-enactors, but not all showed up, Arch said. He estimated the total number of re-enactors at about 13,000.

Ben Hart, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated Monday that people spent about $1.5 million to $2 million in the county during the three-day event.

The amount would have been higher had the threat of rain not deterred some visitors, he said.

The event was covered by 100 media outlets, including The London Times, CNN and National Geographic, Hart said.

The re-enactment, in terms of economic impact and media exposure, is the biggest event of the year in Washington County, according to Hart.

Frank Artz, 75, who loaned 500 acres of his family's Rench Road farm for the re-enactment, said he would be willing to do so again in five years, provided the land has not been used for another purpose by then.

"It was not too bad," he said of the weekend event. "It went pretty well."

Artz's land also was used for the re-enactment in 1997.

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