Ball's Bluff Reenactment Provides Economic Boost for Region
On October 22, 2011 Ball’s Bluff Battlefield in Leesburg played host to one of the signature events in Northern Virginia’s commemoration of the Civil War. With approximately 1000 uniformed re-enactors representing both sides, and a jury of 2000 spectators, the re-enactment of the battle that took pace 150 years earlier was a true spectacle, and its effect on those who attended was clearly visible. In addition to the great educational value of this event, it was proved to be a big part of Virginia’s second biggest industry: tourism.
With the help of Visit Loudoun, the authority on tourism in Loudoun County, NVRPA was able to determine the economic effect of the Ball’s Bluff Re-enactment totaled roughly $100,000 in economic gain for the area.
“Heritage tourism is such an important driver for visitation and Visit Loudoun is pleased to support events like the 150th Ball's Bluff Re-enactment, not only for the immediate economic visitor spending impact, but also for the long term benefit allowing visitors to experience a unique Civil War legacy that only Loudoun County offers,” said Patrick Kaler, President & CEO of Visit Loudoun.
Ball’s Bluff is just one of many historic parks spread across the Northern Virginia region, which are owned and operated by NVRPA. Venues like Carlyle House in Alexandria, the W&OD Trail – which stretches from Shirlington all the way to Purcellville, Mt. Zion and Aldie Mill and, of course, Temple Hall Farm and Ball’s Bluff in Leesburg, blaze a brilliant trail through history with a strong focus on the Colonial and Federalist periods, as well as the Civil War. And they are but a fraction of NVRPA regional history experience.
NVRPA, in cooperation with Fairfax County Government television, recently completed a documentary regarding this legacy. Entitled "Region Divided: Civil War in the Northern Virginia Regional Parks” and narrated by former CBS and NBC anchor Roger Mudd, the film looks at the relevance of NVRPA’s many historic sites, and the roles they played during the country’s bloodiest conflict. Much of the footage used in the film’s discussion of Ball’s Bluff was taken during the October 22 re-enactment.
Cate Magennis Wyatt, President of Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, was thrilled that the re-enactment was able to bolster both interest in local history and the local economy.
"Heritage Tourism is the largest employer within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area,” Wyatt said. “Specifically, 54,000 jobs rely on visitors coming our way. The remarkable efforts of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, in partnership with the Loudoun 150th Commemoration Committee, has added over $100,000 to our local economy. This is a wonderful example of how we can increase the quality of life for all, as we commemorate our shared heritage."
The re-enactment was part of a whole weekend of Civil War related events, which began at Morven Park on Friday, October 21 and continued through the 23rd, finishing with Edward Baker Day, in which representatives from the state of Oregon presented an inscribed copy of the official declaration to George Tabb, Ball’s Bluff park manager, and Bill Wilkin, president of the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable. The document is on display at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg. Baker was the sitting US senator from Oregon, and commanded the Union troops at Ball's Bluff, where he was killed.
Soldiers camped at Morven Park, offering a living history demonstration on Friday, and then marched to Ball’s Bluff for the re-enactment. Spectators – who arrived from all over the region and further (at least one spectator was from Minnesota) – parked at Morven and were bussed to Ball’s Bluff. After returning to Morven after the demonstration in the late hours of the afternoon, many descended upon Leesburg – taking advantage of the nearby town and enjoying the shopping, restaurants and more.
“I sincerely believe that Loudoun's rich history and historical sites like the Balls Bluff Battlefield are great assets for the county,” said Catoctin Supervisor-Elect Geary Higgins. “When you couple our history with the natural beauty, the wine country and other rural economic resources, you have a very powerful tourist draw that will become a vital part of Loudoun's business tax base.”
“We believe it’s important to know that such a dynamic and important battle occurred so close to where many of us now live, work and shop,” said NVRPA Board member and Leesburg resident, Joan Rokus. “We take parts of our history for granted, and this battle is the key reason why NVRPA acted to preserve this property.”
To view an album of photographs of this great event, please visithttp://photobucket.com/150thBallsBluff.
“Region Divided” will begin showing on Fairfax Government Television (channel 16) starting in January. It is anticipated that this show will run on other local government and public television stations soon. Portions of the film will also soon be on the NVRPA.ORG website.