January is usually a crazy weather month for reenactment. We can testify to this by thinking about the last few years before this, when we were all shivering our tooki (what’s the plural of tookus) off , celebrating Old Christmas in single digit weather with snow ankle deep on the ground. This year, however, God truly blessed us. Old Christmas was last weekend, the Battle of Cowpens was this weekend, with the major events being held yesterday and in both cases, the weather was cold but superb. The cabins were decorated beautifully; I know I say this every year but truly, these were the best yet. Mike Mankin and Dave Shook transformed the Tavern in to a Scotsman’s paradise; Rachael, Lisa and Worley Bennett made the Talbot House look so veddy English that even Gail and Richard Ellis in Ludlow couldn’t tell where it was. Mike and I paid a holly tree to puke on Cabin 4- holly, ivy and pine were everywhere transforming the cabin into something from the Tirol. Chad’s cabin was a study in delft and pewter, warm (well maybe not thermally) and inviting. Finally, there was the Irish cabin. Col. McCroskey and Tony Devault sprigged it with green and it looked like a wee cottage in the midlands. Then there were the intrepid: Earl, Jacob, Kim, Chris, Scot and Tall Bear camped in the primitive area and from the looks of it were pretty comfy.
Chad estimated that there was between 350 to 500 people joining us on the Saturday of Old Christmas. I have no doubt the top end was the number, maybe more. Everyone said they ran out of food on Saturday and there was contemplation of a Walmart run for those who lived away, and a baking night for those who lived close or like Norma, were going home and coming back. Prime example of this was the cabin were Mike and I were installed. I brought 12 doz. Springele, cinnamon, tumbles and star cookies, had one rather large stollen, one substantial loaf of wheat bread, fruit and candy canes galore. Norma added a a lovely homemade pumkin bread (she calls it bread but it’s delish like cake). As people, literally between 4 to a dozen at a time, were piling in, we started to become a little concerned as we tried to figure out how to make things stretch to the end of the day. I was cutting the baked goods as thin as communion wafers but at the end of the day, I had 2 doz. cookies , a few dozen candy canes and some apples left. Norma baked another cake for Sunday, I put out the rest of the cookies and didn’t have to worry about one left over. Rachael went home and baked mountains of cookies for the Sunday crew as Lisa said that they were tapped. I heard the identical thing from every other cabin so I think this was SUCCESSFUL and the community really partook of the Christmas cheer which made everyone very happy. To add to the atmosphere, the Fife and Drum played throughout the day and we had two wonderful guest fiddlers, Sara Miller and her friend, Brian, friends of Sherry Shook, who played off and on all day. What was very excellent was that several visitors were from the Knoxville and Kentucky area. They had read about the event in the Knoxville paper and came. This muster is usually one to socialize with each other but with the weather being so good, everyone was pretty much chained to their cabins welcoming the public and cooking, of course, for the festivities later on.
After the people left, everyone let out a collective sigh, relaxed and prepared for the dinner that Mike Mankin and Dave Shook were hosting in the Tavern. Dave spent the day cooking and he and Mike put on a Scottish spread fit for Bobbie Burns. From Tatties and Neeps to venison stew to Mike’s fresh oaten bread, it was simply wonderful. After everyone ate, Sara and Brian fiddled and I bet the ghosts of those who came before were tapping their feet, hearing familiar music and the sound of voices resonatiing throughout the fort.
Sunday was busy as well, mostly after churh, ours and elsewhere. Mike Mankin reminded me of the best part of Sunday! ” and not to forget our Piper Lt. Com. James Gee and his lovely wife Linda, who visited with us on Sunday, friends of Bill Abernathy from over the mountain in N.C. We started off Sunday with a few pipe tunes and James played ‘Amazing Grace’ for our church service. Made tears come to my eyes, as that was my Father’s favorite tune, especially when played on the war pipes. Hopefully they will join our Militia and become members of our group. Every one enjoyed their company, militia and visitors all.”We were lucky that it didn’t start raining until promptly at 3 PM. People came through and we all enjoyed the last of the wonderful season of Christmas.