On behalf of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, my staff and I, we would like to welcome all those who will be attending the 47th annual Fort Massac State Park Grand Encampment.
Over the years, we have been asked what it takes to make this event a success. Well, here is the short answer: Good weather, a lot of help, several trams to transport people back and forth and, of course, lots of money.
Now, here is the not so short answer. First, any threat of inclement weather will reduce the attendance. Also, if the weather is cooler and sunny during those days, most people will want to get out and enjoy a family event.
Another factor is the commitment the Department of Natural Resources and the City of Metropolis places in putting on this large of an event. Then, there is the funding that the Greater Metropolis Convention and Visitors Bureau grants the event each year, which will be thousands of dollars.
This event could not be held without the support of the first responders and police, fire, IMERT, medical, EMS and National Weather Service personnel.
Then there are the special event personnel in Springfield who work on organizing and planning this event the entire year, as well as the staff who come in from all over the state to help support this event.
They make sure the entertainers, presenters, crafts, music and food are all period correct and are some of the best available in the country. All those who will be participating will be dressed in period appropriate clothing, which has been researched and studied for accuracy of the timeline replicated at this event.
The Encampment would not be the same without the entertainers and musical groups who give great diversity to this event;, the crafters, many of whom make their articles one piece at a time with such skill and patience; or the food vendors who serve not only quality period food, but are the reason some come back year after year for their old-fashioned meals that you cannot find elsewhere.
Then there are the re-enactors who put on a battle that is second to none and help all of us step back into the late 1700s and early 1800s as they perform such things as “posting colours,” doing maneuvers and holding retreat ceremonies during the weekend. The re-enactors camp in tents, eat camp re-cooked food and live on site in tents during the week of the event.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention my staff who work countless hours behind the scenes on preparation, answer questions, help visitors and make sure all those little details that most don’t see are in place and ready when you arrive.
As strange as it may sound, it is an enormous compliment to our staff when the event goes without incident or issues and we go unnoticed — this means we have done our jobs and made sure you experienced a quality event.
Simply said, it is all these people who make the event great.
As the superintendent at the park, I am proud to be associated with each and every one of those who make my job so much easier and to you who are faithful to attend this event and, hopefully, will continue for years to come.
Enjoy the food, entertainment and the education about our country’s history! Please adhere to all current COVID-19 regulations and maintain social distancing. Since there will be very large crowds, for the safety of others, if you have COVID symptoms, please stay home. There will be the ability to get your COVID vaccination at the event, and we hope to have testing available in the medical area.
Chris L. McGinness
Site Superintendent III