Appomattox, VA- Hundreds of people came out to Appomattox this weekend to celebrate the 149th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
All weekend the Appomattox Historical Society has hosted battles, events, camps, and exhibits. Event coordinators say this is the fourth of five years of programs leading up to next year's one hundred and 50th celebration. Each year the size of events has doubled, and Friday more than 600 kids came out to check out the exhibits
"It's a very educational experience, it's both entertaining and educational," said Jeff Smith who is the President of the Appomattox Historical Society.
It is like taking a step back 149 years. For three nights, more than 400 re-enactors eat, sleep, and breathe as if they were in the Civil War.
"This is the Appomattox heritage. This is what put the county on the map," said Smith.
It is part of the Long Road Home Program, the five year event leading up to the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. There are themed events each year. This year's theme focuses on the events surrounding Sailor's Creek.
"We try to bring history alive, we try to make it real for people, we try to explain to them what happened then in an effort to make sure that it doesn't happen in the future, " said Allan Stone who portrays General Robert E. Lee.
Many of the re-enactors like Stone, have been doing this for close to 20 years.
"People are so ignorant of our past and we kind of feel a calling to bring it to life and let people know what happened," said Stone.
It is more than a hobby, for them, it is a passion.
"There was a war, reinforce the fact that six, seven, eight, hundred thousand American lives and I say Americans because they were Americans whether they were Confederate Americans or Union Americans, they were all Americans," said Stone.
It's a passion that stems from teaching people history in hopes of a better future.
"The further back you look the farther ahead you can see, so by doing this we help people to look back and by looking back they can say well now, look how terrible that was and do we want to do that in the future? If not then what steps do we take to prevent that from happening," said Stone.
Stone said he plans to retire as General Robert E. Lee after next year's one-hundred and 50th celebration. Next year they are expecting thousands of re-enactors as well as thousands of spectators. Organizers say they plan for the nearly 500 acres to be filled to capacity with people.