|Our Next Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, the 5th of August, 2023. Registration will be held at the Keller Homestead, Friday, the 4th of August, 2023, from 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM. The meeting itself will be at the VFW in Edinburg.|
In the meantime – the annual meeting is a business meeting with a dinner and program. A silent auction has been added to it as well. That meeting must be held so that we can have elections to the board. We also must have it to give the membership our reports for the year on the annual spending, the number of members and the activities for the previous year. In addition, the membership may bring complaints. This is essentially a corporate meeting with a sense of humor.
The annual picnic has been a tradition since the 1880’s – perhaps earlier. It was initially held in the Hottel Meadow, and it actually must have been something like a tent meeting, because as many as a thousand people gathered for it. Upon occasion, the annual picnic was held on the Fisher’s Hill Picnic Grounds.
I suspect that if I studied it long enough, I might find that the event was moved to satisfy members who wanted to go to both the soldiers’ reunion and the Hottel Keller at the same time. The veterans all wanted to go to Fisher’s Hill, and so did the boys. The boys ran back and forth between the different units of men and urged them to tell stories. My grandfather said there were Union soldiers there too, and he would urge them to talk too!
A couple of my great great grandfathers went to the picnic. They wore gray suits, and the one who rode with Imboden had a gray feather in his hat! Phyllis Wright said her family said the Fisher’s Hill Reunion and the Fair were the two most important events in Shenandoah County. Trains delivered people to the area from adjoining counties and from the southern parts of Shenandoah County too! There was a bit of a carnival air to this gathering.
After the Civil War ended, soldiers from both sides often gathered at Fishers Hill near Strasburg to remember the war with a huge picnic. Special trains brought veterans from as far away as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The local people said the picnic and the Shenandoah County Fair were two of the most important annual events. (Of course the Hottel Family Picnic was also very well attended.) As many as 12,000 people attended the Fishers Hill Picnic in 1912.
The picnics ended in the 1930’s, as many of the Civil War Veterans were gone. The young boys remembered that the Confederate soldiers often wore gray suits to the reunion. One Confederate cavalryman wore a gray feather in his hat. The boys would run back and forth between the veterans from both sides and urge them to tell about the various battles from their opposite points of view. The veterans were apparently glad to oblige the youngsters, and some exaggerations occurred on both sides.
The Fishers Hill Battlefield Site is now owned by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation. The foundation will join with several other groups to present tours of the battlefield and the original picnic grounds. The event is free and open to the public and will feature historic displays, live period music, and a program highlighting the history of the picnics.
*Our Annual Meeting is held on the first Saturday of August, every year.