The FBI is now investigating after the discovery of what authorities are calling a “suspicious package,” which was found by a visitor near the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park in Middleton, Virginia around 4:00 pm Saturday.
Due to the proximity of the device to the annual battle of Cedar Creek reenactment, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office decided to evacuate all participants, shutting down the event. No one was injured in the incident.
After the Virginia State Police Bomb Squad determined the item was safe, the public and reenactors were allowed back in the area. However, the rest of the weekend’s festivities, including a reenactor’s ball were cancelled.
“Due to this unfortunate situation our event staff is unable to fulfill the required logistical needs to continue the event on Sunday,” Joe D’Arezzo, president of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, the sponsors of the annual reenactment, said in a press release “It is regrettable that a nice family event would be disrupted in this way.”
The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation also said they had increased security due to threats received prior to the event. They had posted a notice on the event website several days ago to inform the public and the participants.
Hundreds of people had gathered at the battlefield to celebrate the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek, which took place on Oct. 19, 1864. It was largest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley during the war.
The event has been held annually since 1990. The reenactment is one of the largest annual events in the region drawing each year between 3,000 and 5,000 reenactors from all over the country as well as Canada.
Re-enactor Carol Makdad with the 46th Pennsylvania Re-enactment Band told The Winchester Star the evacuation of the field began right as the event’s attendees were getting ready to sit down for dinner.
“It’s unfortunate, but we all knew when we came in the possibility of this,” Makdad told the newspaper. “Hopefully people aren’t too upset. We are trying to do something good.”
The FBI is asking for the public’s help. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the FBI at (804) 261-1044.
Sources: The Winchester Star, NBC4