1992 Reenactment Kindled Interest In Heritage Events

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
In 1990, filmmaker Ken Burns made a nationwide splash with his nine-part documentary ‘The Civil War’ becoming one of the most watched television programs in history. Within two years, Ripley County was planning its own big event centered around local Civil War history. Major players were the Ripley County Chamber of Commerce, local historian Jerry Ponder and longtime community backers Lester and Lenore Wright. They recruited to serve as hosts of the 7th Arkansas Infantry Regiment re-enactors group from Paragould, Ark. The Wrights’ 220 acres about two miles east of town was the perfect location for a major reenactment and more than 600 participants representing 47 units from 15 states were more than a little eager to skirmish there. From Oct. 23-25 local residents and businesses welcomed thousands of guests with open arms for a military ball and two days of mock battling on the open fields of Wright Park. Combined attendance was estimated at nearly 10,000 people with some coming from as far away as California. Each paid $2 for a place to park. While no large-scale reenactments were planned again, the Doniphan Neighborhood Assistance Program (DNAP) later founded Civil War Days, a two-day event held at the Pioneer Heritage Homestead one block south of the courthouse. In 2019, a more broad format was added and the name was changed to Current River Heritage Days, which return this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-25.
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