Why is it Important to Register at the Battle of Olustee?

The Battle of Olustee takes place on land owned by the United States Federal Government and the State of Florida. Most of the land, except for three acres owned by the State of Florida and another 688 acres operated by the state under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service, is owned by the Federal government and persons visiting it are subject to Federal law. This has certain disadvantages if you plan to be, or accidently become, a "very bad boy." However, if you stay on the side of 'Truth and Justice' then you will be comforted to know that county, state and federal law enforcement agencies are well represented by numerous officers who assist the organizers of the event. The officers are not here to hassle you, as they hope to enjoy the event as much as you.

One of the major advantages of having the event on Florida State Park property occurs when you physically visit the Registration Tent. The organizers of The Battle of Olustee do not charge reenactors a registration fee. When you stop by the Registration Tent and enter your name and unit onto the registration lists you do more than just tell us you are present. When you enter your name on our registration forms you automatically become a Florida State Park Volunteer for the weekend of the event. This means that if you should suffer an injury while in the capacity of a volunteer you are entitled to Workman's Compensation. Think about it. The small amount of time you spend visiting the registration tent gives you the legal right to medical and personal compensation. So, when you come to The Battle of Olustee Reenactment, do yourself a favor and stop by the Registration Tent to "make your mark."

Since the Federal government owns most of the land there are strictly enforced rules and regulations that you ordinarily do not encounter in events run by private organizers. Most of these rules are beneficial to reenactors, such as strict requirements for the number of porta-potties, availablity of water and medical personnel. However, some rules can generate hard feelings among participants who do not understand that U.S. Forest Service and Florida Park Service personnel are required to enforce regulations that private organizers can just wink at.

One such Federal regulation, that caused hard feelings among some reenactors at 1996 Olustee, is the requirement that anyone selling food on Federal property must be registered as a "food concessionaire." It doesn't make a difference if some consider the food to be better than that offered by others, or the food-seller claims to be an "authentic reenactor." Federal regulations state that if money is exchanged for food at the event then that person is a food concessionaire and must register as such. If Federal employees at the Olustee event ignore this or other regulations then they risk reprimands, or worse, by administrators in their agency.

Sutlers who are Florida residents sometimes wonder why they are subject to Federal regulations at the Reenactment of the Battle of Olustee. Also, since only a limited number of sutlers are now allowed at the Reenactment, some sutlers, who are Florida residents, who did not make the list might ask why they cannot attend. The reason is quite simple. Only three acres of the Olustee site are owned by the Florida Park Service, the rest of the site is Federal property. As a result, the rules that govern the sutlers are Federal regulations. Florida Park Service personnel and the Citizen Support Organization have to follow the rules dictated by the Federal government.

Sutlers also need to understand that the only reason they are allowed at the site (which, as mentioned above, is on Federal lands) is as a "draw" to authentic reenactors. The reasoning is simple: if there are plenty of authentic sutlers selling authentic goods then this will be an attraction to authentic reenactors to come and participate. The fact that many of the spectators also buy these goods is "just coincidental." Plus, sutlers are inspected to ensure that they only sell authentic period goods. As U.S. Forest Service and Florida Park Service personnel learn more about what are and what are not authentic period goods, some sutlers can expect to be told to take certain items off the shelves that they have displayed in previous years.

As our hobby matures, reenactors and their camp followers can expect to see improvements made that, in some cases, will generate questions by those who have been in the hobby for years. These improvements are in authentic clothing and equipment, stricter regulations and, most importantly, safety. The advantages to this are that authentic reenactors are now welcome as volunteers on many state and national park sites where previously they had been excluded. Federal and state agencies have learned to respect those reenactors who make the extra effort to be authentic and now rely on them to assist in teaching history to park visitors.

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