If you are any kind of a history buff, you won’t want to miss this weekend’s Civil War Show at Beech Grove High School.
Dealers from eight states will sell and display cannonballs – some weighing more than 100 pounds – muskets, pistols, swords, currency, relics of the war, medals, books, documents, autographs, personal items of soldiers and other collectibles.
Retired Beech Grove Principal Harvey Warrner launched the event eight years ago and has nurtured it into the largest show of its kind in Indiana. And while the show is big, it pales in size to the ones in Gettysburg, Pa., where there are more than 500 tables, he said.
“We have had a great response to our shows. Others shows have started in the state but they have not lasted. We just keep growing. The first year I had dealers from four states and 45 tables of collectibles. This year we have 95 tables.” A few tables are still available for $60 each by calling 317-979-1808.
Warrner’s interest in the Civil War dates back to his childhood years when his family went on vacation in the early 1960s to Rock City, a roadside attraction on Lookout Mountain in Georgia and the site of a battle between the Union and the Confederacy.
“Mom and Dad and all six of us kids piled into our station wagon,” he said. “We went to several national parks, and I saw the national cemeteries. I’ll never forget seeing all those white headstones.
“That was quite a trip for a kid who never went on a vacation. That was an epic journey.”
Warrner’s interest in the war continued to grow over the years, and he found himself bargaining with his daughters that anytime they went on vacation they had to stop at a Civil War battle site. “They always enjoyed the trips,” he said.
When he retired as principal it freed up a lot more time for he and his wife, Sally, to travel to shows throughout the Midwest. Sally plays a vital role in planning their trips, which number about 15 a year.
“I like going to the shows and trying to make a little money,” Mr. Warner said. “I am continually buying and selling. I keep some stuff until the newness wears off and then I sell it.”
Warrner said he is really looking forward to this weekend’s show at the school, 5330 Hornet Ave., off the 3900 block of South Emerson Avenue. “If people enjoy history, I guarantee 100 percent that they will see something that they have never seen before. And everything is authentic.”
Bullets will be priced from $2 and bone toothbrushes from $20. On the more expensive end, there will be canteens for about $200, muskets for $900 and up and others items up to $20,000. On average, Confederacy items bring about five times as much money because they are rarer. Experts in the field will be on hand to provide free appraisals.
The show runs from 4-6:30 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Saturday’s opening will be marked by the firing of a cannon, which will also be shot at noon by “soldiers” wearing apparel of the period.
Visitors who get hungry can treat themselves to some delicious home-cooked meals on Saturday, thanks to Sally Warrner. “Sally and her sister, Sue Smithley, will start cooking on Thursday. They’ll make barbecue, salads, corn pudding, three kinds of pie and made-to-order subs. There’s a dealer from Atlanta who said he would come just to eat the food,” Mr. Warrner said.
Admission is $3, and is good for both days. Proceeds will benefit the school’s Renaissance Program, which rewards students for academic excellence, outstanding attendance and being good leaders. The shows have raised about $25,000.
“The program is all about us catching kids being good,” Warrner said. “The kids really are good. For each bad one there are 99 good ones; it’s just that you hear about the bad ones. I believe in the kids.”