History Recreated At 2016 Alafia River Rendezvous Reenactment

By Andria Barrios

Every January in Homeland, Florida, a pre-1840’s reenactment camp takes place. Several families from across Brandon and Valrico have participated for years. Stephanie and Mike Hildreth, this year’s “Booshways,” were thrilled to be in charge this year.

“We’re a pre-1840’s reenactment, the mountain man era, but have two areas of the camp: primitive and modern,” said Mike.

Modern RV’s and tents are permitted on one side and a footpath leads through the woods to the primitive side, where participants camp in white canvas tents, wear prairie dresses and cook with cast iron over open fires.

Throughout the week, the camp, whose first event was held in 1972, features black powder shooting and many other activities. There’s school for the children and 19th century dances for the adults. Several vendors participate, some selling authentic root beer and others working with leather, as they did in the old days. Friendly natives roam the soil which is culturally diverse, with most participants coming from Florida and the U.S.
including some from Canada and London.

The camp, which was held in January this year, typically goes on for a week. Tent setup begins days in advance. School tours are held on Thursday and visitor days on Friday and Saturday. This year, because of the cold and windy weather, participant and visitor numbers were low, but not too low. School tours in 2016 included 2,500 chaperoned children, more than double the turnout in previous years.

“The people at the Rendezvous are like family. We all look out for one another, and look forward to seeing each other each year,” said Mike. “No matter what Mother Nature throws at us, we try very hard to give people what they come to see, a true glimpse into the past. It is something we hold very dear to our hearts,” said the Hildreths, who currently live in Mulberry. For more info on registration and 2017 dates, visit www.floridafrontiersmen.com.