A trade show for re-enactors: American Heritage Living History Show returns to Kane County Fairgrounds
In his spare time, Trevor Steinbach of Batavia practices medicine the old-fashioned way, the way they did back in the 1860s.
The retired elementary school principal assumes the identity of his alter ego, a real-life Batavia Civil War surgeon named Charles Bucher, as part of his role with the 17th Corps Field Hospital, a Civil War re-enactment group.
Steinbach also participates annually in the American Heritage Living History Show, a two-day event that comes back to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles this weekend.
The event on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18-19, will host demonstrations, seminars and vendors selling period items from the Revolutionary War period through the Spanish-American War era.
"It's pre-1890. It's a collection of merchants, clubs, organizations and artisans. This year we'll have 75 exhibitors. There's a little something for everybody," said Rebecca Fairchild, who presents the show with her husband, Jim. The Batavia couple owns Spring Valley Lodges, a local company that makes tents for living history re-enactments.
She said vendors will be selling books, antiques, games, crafts and items suitable for re-enactment events.
"We have a gentleman who has a Civil War-era telescope. It's all hand-built," Fairchild said. "We've got a couple of artists that will be there."
There will be a finger-weaving class and a seminar on dulcimer playing, she said. And Onesti's Wild West Town, a Union-based theme park, will be on hand offering children a chance to pan for gold.
"You'll see people from different periods (in period garb) if you come to the event," Steinbach said. "You can learn things from people. You can ask as many questions as you like. It's kind of like the flea market, but this is a very specific kind of event. I like it because this is an event that basically has a very fixed time period."
Steinbach has been involved with Civil War re-enactment for more than 20 years.
The draw for him, he said, is the Civil War's unique status.
"It was the only conflict where it was all Americans," he said.
His interest in portraying medical personnel has always stayed with him as well.
"I've always done medicine," he said.
He said he became interested in period medicine after discovering that his great-grandfather was a plains minister in the 1870s who carried a medical kit with him to remote areas.
"We'll be exhibiting original instruments and we're going to be doing some demonstrations, like taking a bullet out of a leg."
Steinbach, a member of the board of the Society of Civil War Surgeons, said the demonstrations feature the use of full surgical kits that include knives, bone saws and trephines, devices used to relieve internal pressure.
He said the event is a good way for the public to learn about history and a good place for re-enactors to connect and network.
"Next to us is a guy who does leather work for people doing Revolutionary War," he said. "You can pick up materials and learn about groups that are organizing that you can join."
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American Heritage Living History Show
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19
Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles
Admission: $7, free for children 12 and younger; $5 for visitors in period dress