The big guns will be on display this weekend at the trade center. Literally.
“We will have an authentic Civil War cannon inside the trade center, and we’ll have a reproduction cannon in the lobby,” said Mike Kent, promoter of the Chickamauga Civil War Show, which returns to the trade center for the 18th straight year on Saturday and Sunday.
“This is not only one of the largest shows in the Southeast, it’s one of the largest shows in the nation,” said Kent. “The interest is so great we are going to squeeze in a few more tables this year. We’ll have just over 450 tables.”
Kent said he believes the observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which started last year and runs through 2015, has boosted interest in the conflict.
“We did a smaller show down in Charleston, S.C., two weeks ago. Our attendance was up about 20 percent from last year, which was up 20 percent from the year before that,” Kent said. “A lot of that does have to do with the sesquicentennial. We hope that will hold true for the show this weekend as well.”
Kent says he doesn’t know exactly what will be on sale this year.
“These guys surprise me every year. They hunt around, going to estate sales, auctions, things like that, and you never know what they are going to find,” he said. “One fellow did tell me he’s bringing a collection of rare German helmets. I’m interested in seeing that myself.”
Kent opened the show up to relics from the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II three years ago, and he says those have emerged as strong parts of the show.
“There’s plenty of it out there, so it’s often more affordable than some of the Civil War stuff, and just about everyone who comes to the show has a relative who was in World War II, so that really piques their interest,” Kent said.
Kent has also brought in Rafael Eledge from the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow.” Eledge specializes in 19th century military memorabilia.
Dalton State College’s Bandy Heritage Center will present two free lectures during the show on Saturday.
Jim Ogden, staff historian with the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, will speak on “Gateway to the Deep South: The Battles around Atlanta” at 1 p.m.
And at 2 p.m., historian Richard McMurry will speak on “‘Ole Joe 1863’: Joseph E. Johnston and the Defense of the West.”
Both programs will be in the trade center’s Lecture Hall; both are free and open to the public.
And on Saturday night, the Dalton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Dalton Civil War 150th Commission will host a dinner and concert by Bobby Horton, a Birmingham, Ala.-based multi-instrumentalist, who will perform Civil War-era music on period instruments. Horton performed during the show last year, and Tourism Director Brett Huske said the performance was very well received.
Tickets are $20 for the dinner and concert. Doors open at 5 p.m. The dinner starts at 6, and Horton will perform at 6:30.
To find out more about the lectures and banquet, and to purchase tickets to the banquet online, go to dalton150th.com.
Huske said a limited number of tickets will be available at the door, but he recommends that those interested in attending the banquet purchase tickets in advance.