Yes we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
-- “Battle Cry of Freedom”
Sutlers and entertainers at the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta are all about the business of transporting spectators back in time.
The popular 97th Regimental String Band – with renditions of “Goober Peas” “Rose of Alabama” and “The Battle Cry of Freedom” -- proudly proclaims that it “sets music back 100 years.”
Visitors to Nash Farm in Henry County this weekend will have the chance to tap their feet as the 97th’ performs songs about soldiers, adventures and scoundrels.
They’ll also have ample opportunity to buy Civil War-era inspired musical instruments, uniforms and food at the tents spread across a fresh-cut lawn.
“We do a lot in hats, toys and kids stuff,” Cindy Warlick of Heirloom Emporium, based in Strasburg, Va., said Thursday.
Her store has a range of goods. Others are more specialty. “Old Doc” Bell sells root beer, birch beer and other period drinks. Sidekick Sutlery out of Florida specializes in re-enactor gear.
While the economy has hurt some of the businesses, they are hoping good weather will bring out buyers at a three-day event competing with other Labor Day activities.
Don and Jackie Gardner of Grafton, Ohio, are venturing from economically-depressed Ohio to Atlanta for the first time, hoping to drum up new business among re-enacting units they have not seen before.
“It’s a hobby that turned into a business,” says Don Gardner, a retiree.
The couple sells banjos, violins, mandolins and a $189 cherry and cedar dulcimer that gives out a quiet sound and “peace of mind,” Jackie Gardner says.
Although they have a Web site and referrals, such events can be successful. Most who come to the tent are musical novices. The dulcimer can be learned in just a few minutes, the Gardners say.
“People want something that’s joyous in their life,” Don Gardner says. “Music is one way to do that.”
Back at Heirloom Emporium, Donna Huffman of New Market, M.D., prepares a ball dress that will go for $325.
Saturday’s agenda at Nash Farm includes a ladies’ tea and an evening ball at 8 p.m.
Huffman says she has customers across the South who want the dresses and hoop skirts for balls and social events.
Repeat customers are assured.
“Women don’t wear the same dress over again,” Huffman says.