“We are expecting about 3,000. We’ve done three shows in the past three months, and all of them saw an increase of as much as 10 percent,” said Kent.
The 17th annual Civil War show will be at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $8, with children under 12 free.
Kent said he believes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which started last year and runs through 2015, has boosted interest in the conflict.
“People are more aware of it. Every Civil War publication out there, every museum, anyone who has anything to do with the Civil War is really pushing the celebration,” Kent said.
He said exhibitor space has already sold out for the show.
“We’ve got 450 tables. That translates into about 300 individual vendors,” he said. “They come from 30 to 35 different states. I’ve got two different guys coming in from Virginia. I’ve got a guy coming in from Arizona, and I’ve got a lot of guys coming in from surrounding states such as North Carolina and Tennessee.”
Kent said he doesn’t know exactly what will be on sale this year.
“I never know what these guys will come up with from show to show. They are like ‘American Pickers’ (a popular television show). They are out there constantly scouring the country for new things. That’s what makes it interesting,” he said. “But I know we’ll have a lot of antique firearms and a lot of antique swords and uniforms.”
For the past two years, the show has also featured relics from World War I and World War II. Kent said customers will be able to find things from those wars this year, too.
“That is now one of the stronger parts of all our shows. We opened them all up to wars up through World War II. That is a whole different collecting community, but we have found that a lot of our vendors also deal in World War I and World War II memorabilia,” Kent said. “The good thing about it is that that stuff is a whole lot more affordable than Civil War artifacts.”
On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Dalton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Dalton Civil War 150th Anniversary Committee will host a Civil-War-themed dinner at the trade center at 7 p.m. Bobby Horton, a Birmingham, Ala.-based multi-instrumentalist, will perform Civil War-era music on period instruments.
Tickets for the dinner and concert are $16.99 and can be purchased online at www.daltontradecenter.com.
Dalton State College’s Bandy Heritage Center will host three lectures at the trade center on Saturday, Feb. 4, on “Protecting Home and Hearth: Civil War Georgia in 1862.” Speaking will be historian Richard McMurry (“Confederate Armies: East and West”); Mark Wetherington, director of the Filson Historical Society (“Fought to a Frazzle: The Experiences of Georgia Soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia”); and University of West Georgia historian Keith Bohannon (“The Grim Visage of War: Georgia in 1862”). Those lectures start at 1:30 p.m. and continue at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.
And the CVB will host a lecture by Russell Bonds, author of “Stealing the General,” on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. at the trade center. That book looks at the Great Locomotive Chase, which started in April 1862 when Union spies stole a locomotive near present-day Kennesaw and drove it north, trying to sabotage the railroad as they went along. The chase passed through Whitfield County before ending near Ringgold.
All those lectures are free.
CVB Executive Director Brett Huske said Bonds’ lecture will kick off the local celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Great Locomotive Chase.
The CVB plans a Great Locomotive Chase historic tour on April 14. The tour will stop at Silver Shoe Ranch in south Whitfield County, site of the train’s last stop for fuel; the Dalton Depot, where pursuing Confederate troops let off a telegraph operator to wire of the locomotive’s theft; and the railroad tunnel at Tunnel Hill. Union forces had hoped to destroy the tunnel as part of their sabotage. Instead, it became the point where the locomotive began to slow down as it ran out of fuel.
Tickets for that tour will be $49, and the tour includes a continental breakfast and lunch at the Dalton Depot. Tickets can be bought online at glctour.eventbrite.com.
Huske said the CVB has already begun advertising the event nationally and even internationally.
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