Tory Hole Park will be silent Sept. 26-27.
That may not sound out of the ordinary to most, but it was supposed to be the date for the fifth annual Battle of Elizabethtown re-enactment. Now, however, because of a chain events that borders on the unlikely, the event will take at least a one-year hiatus.
For the past few years, the event helped to depict the part about 60 Bladen County Patriots played in August 1781 to rout more than 300 Tories, or British Loyalists — thanks to some old-fashioned cunning and a basket of eggs. The result was that the Patriots drove off the Tories to help the push this fledgling country closer to independence.
The summertime event also brought numerous visitors to the downtown Elizabethtown area.
As movers and shakers in the Bladen County Historical Society and Harmony Hall Plantation Village Committee, brothers Bobby and Seth Lewis were the driving force behind the creation and continuance of the local event. But earlier this year a rift among members of both groups caused the Lewises to resign their positions.
And shortly after, Bobby Lewis suddenly passed away.
So now, with only two members on the Historical Society’s board, there is little chance it can take the lead to coordinate the event as it has in the past. And no other group that has been involved with the event over its first four years — Harmony Hall Plantation Village Committee, the town of Elizabethtown, the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce included — have shown any interest or ability to take the reins.
We think that’s a shame.
There is no debate that the re-enactment had gotten better each year. From its first year around the Cape Fear Farmers Market and over the next three in Tory Hole Park, interest was growing and the main event had improved.
In some ways, the re-enactment was probably going to be a lasting legacy for Bobby Lewis, who was the heart and soul of the event each year. Though many others were always involved, he was the face of the weekend re-enactment — walking enough steps day in and day out in search of financial and volunteer help to burn up a Fitbit.
So 2016 will be a hiccup in keeping Bobby Lewis’ “baby” alive, but we hope it won’t mean the end of the annual re-enactment. Elizabethtown and Bladen County should have more pride than to let that happen.
We feel sure that if the above groups — possibly along with the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the history clubs at both high schools — can come together soon and begin putting together a 2017 event, things might get back on track.
Tory Hole Park will be silent on Sept. 26-27. We hope the spirits of the Tories who were driven into that ravine will only have a one-year respite.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” (Marcus Garvey)