A final charge as GCC ends Civil War Encampment
College completes Civil War commemoration, honoring 150th anniversary of pivotal war
MEDINA – The Union soldiers make a charge on the Confederates during today’s mock battle at the GCC’s Medina campus center on Maple Ridge Road.
The campus has hosted Civil War Encampments the past three years. In 2012, the first encampment was at GCC’s campus in Lima.
This is the final encampment in the college’s four-year commitment to honor the 150th anniversary of the war. Besides the encampments, GCC has hosted many lectures, exhibits, period concerts and other events to highlight the war and unravel any myths about the “War Between the States.”
In Orleans County, GCC has also sponsored the “Heritage Heroes,” given to local residents committed to preservation projects.
The Medina community proved a great partner for the Encampment, opening up its downtown for parades and special events, including a surrender ceremony on Saturday. The village blocked off streets and made State Street Park available for a skirmish between the Union and Confederate re-enactors on Saturday.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Derek Maxfield, a GCC professor and Civil War Encampment coordinator. “The people of Medina have embraced this so much I feel bad that it is ending.”
Several donors from the Medina community have contributed funds along with the college to stage the annual event the past three years.
Medina village officials and Police Chief Jose Avila have been very accommodating to requests to include the community and bring the re-enactors outside the GCC campus. Maxfield knows there was added work and worry for the village officials, especially for Avila with the mock battle and the sounds of gunfire in the park on Saturday.
“Jose Avila and Mayor Andrew Meier have been very good to us,” Maxfield said. “All we’ve ever had to do is ask. Not all communities rally around history and heritage like in Orleans County. In other places they have let their buildings go. In Orleans County and in Medina there is a will here.”
The battle in the park and the surrender ceremony were moving to onlookers. “It was one of the finest displays of living history come alive I’ve ever seen,” said Chris Busch, chairman of the Orleans Renaissance Group.
He made those remarks on Saturday from a stage on Main Street. He presented Maxfield with an award on behalf of the ORG and Medina community for his efforts in bringing the Civil War Encampment to Medina.
Maxfield and Jim Simon, dean of the GCC Albion and Medina campus centers, would like to see a Heritage Festival in the county next year. They have pitched the idea to some of the local organizations and so far the feedback is good, Maxfield said.
About 100 re-enactors were in town for the Encampment over the weekend. They were grateful for the chance to dig up the campus grounds, building fences and other elements for the battles.
“Here you can do earthworks,” said Scott Lavigne, a re-enactor from Penfield. “You can build a snake rail fence and fill it with sod.”
Lavigne has been pleased to see the Encampment grow in Medina, adding the mounted cavalry this year, the battle in the park, the surrender ceremony and the many exhibitors.