GDMK Images at War and Peace Revival Show 2016
The biggest military vehicle show of the year on our calendar saw us visiting the 5 day War and Peace Revival show at Folkestone racecourse.
We were all looking forward to the opportunity to get up close to so many iconic military vehicles.
The War and Peace Revival has a mixed history but has been running under various guises for over 20 years. It is reputed to be THE event for re-enactors, vehicle owners and related associations to get together and put on a show of hardware and live action.
Because of its close location to Europe, many rare and prized foreign vehicles make their only UK appearances. This alone makes the show a must see in the eyes of many fans and enthusiasts.
So Wheres Our Pitch Then?????
With excitement levels high for this mighty show, I have to say our first impressions were not brilliant. The marshals seemed to be none existent upon arrival. At reception there was no guidance on how to get to our stall pitch. We had the privilege of doing two full circuits of the site before we found a trader who could point us in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, we had great views of the display areas and vehicles on show, but after a 4 hour drive we just wanted to get to our pitch. The marshals were wearing white ‘war and peace’ t-shirts which is not much use when you are looking for the usual yellow/green hiviz clothing normally associated with event officials.
Anyway we did find our pitch about an hour after arriving!
Punter and Trader Personas Clash
The War and Peace Revival Show, all in all, was a real mixed event. The show caused some inner (and vented) exasperation to both my punter and trader personas.
As a punter, it was fantastic to walk around and chat with the other traders, re-enactors and vehicle owners. Unfortunately, this caused significant conflict with my trader persona as I had far too much time to do the above. The organisation of, and footfall through, the trading area is a serious problem for the long-term health of this show. As a trader, at one of the biggest militaria events in the UK, you should expect to be fully occupied with your business, not sitting around with other traders and participants waiting for the crowds to arrive.
The main cause for this, in my opinion, was the sheer distance of the car park from the trading area. For a fit and able person, you needed around 30 – 40 mins to cover this distance. Add in temperatures in the high 20s/low 30s and this becomes quite an issue.
Furthermore, add in there were virtually zero facilities for the infirm or disabled and you have yourself an issue.
The punters would walk from the car park, through the re-enactment and living history areas and eventually come across the trading area tucked about as far away from the car park as physically possible.
My daughter and I walked several times through the vehicle displays to and from the trading area. It was A LONG WAY!!! Especially walking back at the end of an evening’s photography!
There was a ‘shuttle’ service, consisting of a tractor and trailer, moving people around the site. Judging by visitors comments it was running an irregular pattern. I overheard many complaints of long waits for the shuttle.
With my punters head on, if I were a visitor, I would probably not have bothered with the trading area unless there was something specific I wanted to buy. Which is pretty much exactly what happened. People were only buying what they needed.
There were very few people generally browsing any of the stalls, be it camo clothing traders, toy traders, general militaria traders and so on.
This was a real shame as it was our first visit of which we were very much looking forward to.
Should a Trader Be Able to Expect More?
By day 3 the reality had sunk in that there was a serious issue with the layout affecting many traders. Many were extremely unhappy at the lack of footfall. We take each show as it comes. We arrive with an open mind as you never know how a show is going to pan out, but it was disheartening to see regular traders so unhappy with the situation.
This irked my trader persona as we can accept low sales as a result of people choosing not to buy our products. To have your sales potential restricted by poor organisation is something different. As traders, we pay handsomely for our pitches. In return we expect the organisers to make reasonable efforts to ensure the maximum footfall is circulated equitably around the trade area.
Heroes of The Show
A somewhat unexpected side effect of this situation allowed my punter persona to make the most of the event by walking around the re-enactment and living history areas.
The time made available by quiet trading allowed me to visit many of the re-enactment groups and vehicles.
This is where things brighten up considerably. I have to say the living history, re-enactment groups and vehicle owners were the true heroes of the War and Peace Revival. I take my hat off to the guys n gals who present stunning vehicles and realistic encampments.
It is important to remember these military shows are not a glorification of war. They are not men playing with big boys toys either (well not all the time anyway!). The various groups and vehicle owners are keen to keep everything as accurate as possible in respect to the men and women who lived and died in the uniforms on show. The huge learning opportunity to the generations who never had to fight for freedom cannot be underestimated.
There is always a certain air about these events. You could feel the sense of pride in people when talking to them about their vehicle or group. Everyone had such a passion towards ensuring the authenticity of their respective roles. People were in awe of those who did it all for real and felt a responsibility to make sure their contribution portrayed the story in a respectful way.
Indeed, my own emotions were tugged at when I came across a Japanese soldier in the trade area wearing full combat dress.
My Grandfather fought the Japanese in Burma and he told me a few tales. Most tales were about his escapades when on leave but ocassionally he dropped in a snippet about his combat experiences. Seeing this representation of what he had dealt with momentarily stopped me in my tracks.
This was confirmation to me about the huge educational value of such shows. It is vitally important we never forget the sacrifices made by generations of our forebears. It is more important that we learn what causes such conflict and hatred between people and find ways to deal with differences before blood is spilt. Unfortunately we have a very long way to go …………..
I like to think I know my way around the history of most of the 20th Century Wars and conflicts. Talking with these men and women opened my eyes to so many gaps in my knowledge.
We are all familiar with the big battles and events, but there is so much that is glossed over by the media. I feel priveliged to have learnt so much from dedicated individuals representing all factions involved in 20th Century conflicts.
Summing Up The War and Peace Revival Show 2016
Being a ‘newbie’ to the show, it didnt take long to pick up vibes when talking to the public, traders, vehicle owners and re-enactment groups around the showground. There were frequent references to some angst in the build up to the show between various parties. It seems the result was fewer vehicles, fewer re-enactment groups and lower takings by many traders. A real shame for me personally, as my trader and punter personas were really looking forward to the show!
Although sales were low, interest in my unique art style was very high. I am extremely grateful to have been asked by several vehicle owners and groups to undertake commissions to create art work for their them. I also received several requests to undertake photoshoots which combined with the commissions, will help offset the lack of sales. Many thanks to those involved for asking me if you are reading this!
So on with a few more photos taken at the show.
We will be visiting the Combined Ops Airshow and Military Vehicle Show show in a couple of weeks which, although smaller in scale, we hope will be a more positive experience.
It is true – bigger isn’t always better!
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your views on my below
Cheers for now