Civil War show to return to the Dalton Convention Center on the final weekend of January

File/Daily Citizen-News

Joseph Collins of Atlanta uses a magnifying glass to look at Civil War-era photographs at a booth at the convention center in this file photo from a previous Civil War show.

Mike Kent, promoter of the annual Chickamauga Civil War Show, said he believes he'll have "a blowout show" when the show returns to the Dalton Convention Center at the end of January.

"We were up in Franklin, Tennessee, about a month ago," he said. "We had to cancel that event (in 2020) because of COVID-19, and everybody was so happy to get out, to see their buddies, to see new collections, to see new items that people had found over the last year. There was just a lot of excitement. I'm expecting the same thing in Dalton in a couple of weeks."

The show returns to the Dalton Convention Center on Saturday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 (children under 12 will be admitted free).

Kent said he didn't have to cancel the 2021 show in Dalton.

"We worked with (the convention center)," he said. "We had protocols we had to follow. We required masks and had disinfecting areas and things like that. We had some limits on the number of tables we could have. But we did have a show.

"We were off 200 or 300 people. Our crowd tends to be a little bit older, and I think older people were a little apprehensive about getting out in a crowd. We had about 1,500 people come through the door. We normally have 1,700 to 2,000 people come through the door."

Kent said this year masks will be encouraged but not required. The show will provide a free mask to those who want one, and there will be hand sanitizer throughout the arena. Attendees will be asked to maintain social distance.

"We were up in Asheville, North Carolina, this weekend (with a gun and knife show) and we had a good show up there," he said. "We were off a little bit up there. They were having a spike in the omicron variant there, and I think some people were a little bit nervous about coming out. We had 3,500 people attending, where we normally have about 4,000."

Kent said the Dalton show is one of the biggest Civil War shows in the nation.

"This is our second-biggest show," he said. "Franklin, Tennessee, is our biggest show. This might be the second-biggest show in the country."

Kent said he'll have vendors from 35 states, including Hawaii, South Dakota and Wyoming.

"We will have a dealer from England who used to come over fairly frequently but hasn't been here in a couple of years," Kent said. "He has a collection of edged weapons from Europe. That's something you don't see often in the United States. We'll have a couple of guys with a collection of belt buckles, many of which haven't been seen before. We'll have three of four speakers giving lectures on Saturday. Those haven't been finalized yet, but they usually include some local authors or historians. Those will be free of charge."

In the last several years, Kent has opened the show up to memorabilia from World War I and World War II.

"There's such a demand for material from World War II especially," he said. "That has really broadened the appeal of the show. A lot of people have a dad or a granddad who fought in WWII, so there's a personal connection there that they may not have to the Civil War."

Kent said the show is geared toward families.

"Kids are admitted free," he said. "We like for people to bring their families. Our vendors are always ready to talk about the items in their collection and to explain the history behind them."

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