Okay folks! This is an article I’ve been looking forward to, purely because I’m also looking forward to this particular event! It is November 2020, which means we are rapidly approaching the 2024 Sestercentennial (250th Anniversary) of the Battle of Point Pleasant, and by extension the founding of Point Pleasant and Mason County.
Now, in my opinion, such a major anniversary should be accompanied by major events. Shouldn’t it? I think that it should be a grand event, like the Centennial and Bicentennial celebrations in 1874 and 1974. Though to make it so will take quite a bit of planning, which is why I’m bringing this up now.
It’ll certainly take everybody organization in town to pull it off. The county commission, city council, Main Street, River Museum, Mothman Museum, Historical Society, gardens clubs, SAR, DAR, and others I’ve probably forgotten would all have a role if this is something we want to do.
Obviously, like any important celebration, it ought to have a parade and pageant. Since we’re a river town and always have been, a riverboat gathering of some type would be nice. Possibly invite the Belle of Cincinnati or Belle of Louisville? Live music, fireworks to either kick it off or end it, food trucks and vendors, bunting and flags everywhere, the works. Possibly even a carnival at Harmon or Krodel Park? Being a historian though, I’m more interested in the commemorations.
In my head, I see a full week of events.
Kick it off Sunday with guest speakers at the State Theater, like during the Mothman Festival. I have several well-known historians in mind who would love to come to Point Pleasant.
During the week, have daily living history events at Tu-Endie-Wei and Fort Randolph. Reenactors portraying frontier militiamen and Revolutionary War soldiers, doing firing demos, exhibiting frontier life and possibly even frontier trades such as blacksmithing and leather working would be a great experience for schoolkids. Possible events could even include Cornstalk’s murder and the Siege, and at other times living historians could portray notable frontier figures such as Ann Bailey and Daniel Boone. Think Battle Days, but a full week.
And of course, this is about 250 years of Point Pleasant, so events from other times are a must-have. A Civil War encampment somewhere downtown would be nice, with reenactors portraying soldiers, generals, and politicians from Mason County. Tours of our historic downtown and possibly bike tours of other parts of town would be regular features, as would historic home tours, potentially.
The Society, River Museum, and Mothman Museum would of course all be open and have their own programming.
Friday evening we could put on an outdoor drama like they did for the 200th in 1974. This time, we even have a riverfront amphitheater perfectly suited to putting on a play! Tell our story, from the Battle of Point Pleasant to the Civil War to the river and railroads to coal and salt, and everything in between.
Then on Saturday, wrap everything up with the first full-scale reenactment of the Battle of Point Pleasant. Obviously, it’d be a little difficult to have a battle that big downtown, but there are plenty of large farms along both rivers that would work fine, with plenty of room for both reenactors and spectators. I’d get dressed up! And having gotten involved in reenacting in college, I know at least a couple dozen friends and colleagues that would be more than happy to come. We might not hit a full 1,000 on each side, but I bet we could get close.
Finally, the dignitaries. Every major event has them. Descendants of the Lewis family are well-known in Mason County and would obviously be in attendance. I would like to invite the Shawnee, Seneca-Cayuga, and Delaware Nations, all of which are presently located in Oklahoma, to be involved in the planning and events. The Earl of Dunmore remains a title in the Peerage of Scotland, and as a direct descendant of John Murray, 4th Lord Dunmore and Viscount Fincastle, really ought to be invited. And as usual, I’m sure the state and national politicians will make an appearance, as they tend to do at large events.
It’ll take quite a bit of planning and refining, but I think we could pull off the biggest anniversary celebration this state has seen in long time. It could definitely be one of the largest ever held in Point Pleasant.
Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.