We arrived quite late on Friday with our fully loaded transport. The show was very well signposted and we were welcomed at the gate by cooperative staff who helped us get to a designated area put aside for the group. This was a very good first impression, as other showss we have attended have made us camp in the carpark and then we find we haven't an assigned area, even after numerous checking phone calls and a site inspection. If only all shows were this well run!
The next day we were greeted by the Solent area staff and they sorted out wrist bands and generally made us all very welcome. This positive and useful support continued throughout the show and led to a very pleasant experience. I would strongly encourage people to support this show as it was a good balance of control yet freedom allowing us to make the most of our pitch.
The layout was idea for reenactment groups, slightly off the dusty main drag but easily accessable by the public.
We fielded our highest number of FARG members and at one point had 4 period vehicles on site. Our new charter worked well with responsibilities shared across the group - and the rotational guard duty worked well.
This year we decided the 'bunker' of previous years and the 100 plus sand bags we had carted around last year was too much work for very little impact. So this year we replaced our backdrop with a quick to erect (but as it turned out high maintenance), quick to desemble and easy to store display. We opted for a parachute drop of ammunition with a motorised patrol.
This configuration proved very successful as it made for a colourful and active (rather than passive) display. The public were intregued by the parachutes and the whole display had a great deal of positive feedback. One Foreign Legion member came over to us and made himself known, as well as a handful of French families. Coupled with a few enquiries about joining our group, it was a highly successful outing.
The Dodge made its first apperance since the re-build and it was met with a good deal of attention and positive comments.
To bring the display closer to the public we mixed with them whilst one of our members inflated a parachute canopy. This was photographed a great deal but the gusty wind meant we had to retire from this activity on Sunday. Some very valuable lessons were learnt; even with four people on standby, it is very difficult to collapse a parachute canopy in the case in an emergency (thanks to a para-reenactment group for giving us a top tip of pulling out the bottom of the canopy first to get it to deflate quickly).
The pictures to the right show the general layout with some close ups of the team and period kit. A highlight of the weekend was when an 'glamour model' from the US posed with us for photos in an upcoming WW2 reenactors magazine - I hope they make it clear we were post war French!
Roll on the next show - MVT Severnside, near Glocester, 11-12 June!