Temperatures this weekend are expected to return to normal, and for Brooksville Raid Re-enactment coordinator Joan Casey, that's very good news. It will allow her to take a break from one battle and turn her attention to another.
For Casey and her husband, George, who operate JG Ranch, a 10-acre strawberry and blueberry farm southwest of Brooksville, January is always a busy time. But the recent spate of frigid weather has called for extra work as the couple kept overnight vigil to protect their crops from freezing.
All of which explains why Joan Casey is actually looking forward to the demands of Hernando County's largest public gathering this weekend at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation.
"The Raid is a bit of a break for us, actually," Casey said earlier this week. "It's hectic work, but it's a lot of fun, as well."
The annual epic matchup between soldiers of the Blue and the Gray is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Casey said she is expecting upward of 2,000 Civil War re-enactors to attend the event, which includes mock battles Saturday and Sunday, authentic period music and a little 19th century pageantry.
The fact that the re-enactment festival is still going strong as it concludes its third decade is a testament to the high standards that were established many years ago, Casey said.
"It's always been a family-oriented event that has a lot to offer people of all ages," she said. "These days, when people are trying find value for their money, it's still one of the best bargains around."
The event, which commemorates a brief July 1864 skirmish in Hernando County between Union and Confederate troops, grew from humble roots that go back to the early 1980s, when a group of mostly local Civil War enthusiasts gathered on the property of Hernando rancher Murray Grubbs, who served up barbecue to the hungry participants.
In time, the Brooksville Raid Re-enactment grew to become one of the most respected re-enactment events in the South, drawing participants from all over the region.
Although the battle scenarios continue to be the biggest draw, visitors marvel at the event's fascinating glimpses into history as they tour the Confederate and Union camps, where re-enactors sleep and cook their meals. For the shopping-minded, there is also a fully stocked sutlers row where food, beverages and souvenir items can be found.
The traditional re-enactment battles will be fought at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.