House in the Horseshoe hosts re-enactment event
The rain may have driven some visitors away from the House in the Horseshoe Saturday for the historical site's annual Revolutionary War reenactment, but those who made the trip were well-rewarded with a look into the American past.
"We came out for the historical value," said Sanford resident Chris Winstead while he and his son Tanner, 7, watched reenactors compete in hatchet throwing. "It's local history. It's tradition. I came with my father and grandfather when I was younger."
While the reenactment draws a local crowd, people come from across North Carolina, and even from out of state, for the event. Shane Lumpkins, of Nashville, Tenn., has been a reenactor for 15 years and was taking part in the House in the Horseshoe event for the 10th time.
"When people see that I travel from Nashville to participate," Lumpkins said, "it shows that this is a site worth keeping open. I'm glad to support [House in the Horseshoe], especially when it's in need.
Lee County Commissioner Kirk Smith took part in the reenactment as a member of the loyalist forces attacking the house. Smith's oldest son originally got him into it, and now, Smith attends events with two of his children and his wife, Wendy.
"I'm the quartermaster," Smith said. "That means I'm in charge of the tents, the ironware for cooking, the muskets. If you want to get geared up, we would be able to outfit you right now."
Back in the colonial camp, Joachim Niemoller prepared for the battle. One of his favorite things about the reenactment is the opportunity to meet up with his fellow history buffs he doesn't get to see very often.
"We are a very close-knit group," Niemoller said of the reenactors. "This is one of the few events where we can get together as a family. This is our chance to catch up."
Cheryl Colvin, a reenactor who got married at the House in the Horseshoe in 2009, also had an emotional attachment to the historic site.
"This site," she said, "this site is important. It's very personal. It's home."
Reenactor Rob Lewis summed up the feelings of many reenactors as to the importance of keeping American history alive.
"If we forget our past," he said, "we won't have a future. If we forget where we came from, we would dissolve. If we don't remember what we fought for, we'll lose our country."
House in the Horseshoe Site Manager Alex Cameron is worried that North Carolina may lose that chunk of history provided by the site, which was set to be shut down this year in the N.C. Senate's proposed budget. In past years, the legislature considered closing the site along with a number of other historic sites. This year, it was the only slotted for closure.
The approved state budget allocates funding to the House in the Horseshoe, but Rep. Mike Stone (R-Lee) said generating other sources of revenue will be imperative to ensuring the site remains open in the future.
"We need to find some alternatives to make sure we don't go down this road again," Stone said, "because this is getting tough every couple of years. We're looking at local societies to find a way to sustain it. It doesn't have a large budget."
But with the battle for funding ended, at least for now, reenactors and visitors can focus on the battle at hand — the one that took place in 1781 between the house's owner Philip Alston and his fellow colonists and British loyalist soldiers. After casualties on both sides, Alston eventually surrendered.
Anyone who missed Saturday's reenactment will have the opportunity to see it Sunday at 2 p.m. at the House in the Horseshoe, located at 228 Alston House Road, Sanford.
For information, call (910) 947-2051.