You'll see more of Abraham Lincoln at this year's Civil War Revisited at Kearney Park.
Civil War Revisited is Fresno's annual Civil War re-enactment event, the biggest of its kind in the western United States. It begins Friday for about 2,000 students only. Then it is open to the public Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20.
This year's 24th edition will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, a crucial battle fought between Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pa., from July 1-3, 1863.
Lincoln, played by actor Bill Peck of Los Angeles, usually says just a few words at Civil War Revisited events following battle re-enactments. This year, the Battle of Gettysburg will be re-enacted at 1 p.m. Saturday. Then, Lincoln will recite the entire Gettysburg Address — his historic speech dedicating a national cemetery — at 2 p.m.
"It's one of the most beloved speeches of all time," says Cindy Wathen, event spokeswoman. "We'll have President Lincoln reading it from the stage after the battle.
"Bill Peck looks just like Lincoln. It's incredible the effect he has on people. He's like a rock star. We're only doing it this year due to the anniversary," she says.
The Fresno Historical Society and the American Civil War Association, which present Civil War Revisited, also are adding a new Agricultural Heritage Day area on Sunday. It will feature exhibits, demonstrations and attractions that re-enact everyday life of central San Joaquin Valley ranchers, farmers and their families around the Civil War period.
They include a chuck wagon display, agricultural farm equipment and period artisans, such as a cobbler, saddle maker, wheelwright, broom maker, blacksmith, chair caner, treadle sewer and rug hooker.
Actors also will portray local historical people. Tom Lang will play Theodore Kearney, the forefather of the area's agricultural history, and Gus Short will play James Porteous, inventor of the Fresno scraper.
Wathen says the Agricultural Heritage Day area is designed to help people better understand a period of Valley life in an interactive environment.
She says, "You walk into Kearney Park — and you feel you have walked into another era."
Civil War Revisited
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19-20 at Kearney Park, 7160 W. Kearney Blvd. Cost is $15 for adults, including parking, and $8 for children, ages 6-12. Children, ages 5 and under, get in free. Camp night is 6-10 p.m. Saturday. Soldiers' dinner costs $50 adults, $25 children. Generals' dinner costs $160.
Details: valleyhistory.org or (559) 441-0862.
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