Lake County's Civil War Days 2019 was abruptly cancelled in June. | Lake County Discovery Museum
The Lake County Forest District Preserve Board has scheduled a special meeting Aug. 5 to determine whether Civil War Days will be restored in 2020.
Following a spate of ugly threats and rhetoric this spring, the board abruptly cancelled Civil War Days 2019, scheduled for July 13 and 14, with a post on its website in June. For 27 years, the Civil War Days commemoration in Lake County, complete with booming cannons, galloping horses and rifle fire, has attracted people from all over the country.
Lake County Forest District Preserve Board President Angelo Kyle cited “security concerns” for this year's cancellation. Kyle and some local officials said that they were afraid that Civil War Days would attract angry demonstrators with the potential for violence, as has happened at confederate monuments in other states.
Steven Fratt, PhD | Trinity International University
The board’s decision disappointed a lot of supporters of the event, and some were angry enough to call for Kyle's resignation.
Steven D. Fratt, chairman of the history department at Trinity International University and a longtime Civil War re-enactor, makes no secret of his anger at the cancellation. He insists that Kyle’s security concerns were blown out of proportion.
“The scale of the battles leaves such a big impression,” Fratt told Lake County Gazette. “Really good history gets us out of our own time period and gets us to understand people and why they did what they did.”
Fratt encourages all interested people to show up at the board meeting on Monday, Aug. 5 at 11:30 a.m. at the Lake County Forest District Preserve office, 1899 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville, to support the resumption of Civil War Days in 2020. He is confident that the board will give the go-ahead to restore the event next year but also knows the support of board president Kyle is integral.
“We need assurances from him that he will not cancel it again,” Fratt said.
Last year’s Civil War Days included more than 600 re-enactors donning uniforms and period clothing, many with antique guns and rifles. Two major battles and several skirmishes were reenacted. Period campsites for both soldiers and civilians were on view.
An 1863-era Summer Fair was set up, complete with costumed vendors, food, a magic show and living-history exhibits.