The Beltring War And Peace Show is an annual week-long military vehicle/reenactment festival in Kent. I didn't do the all-week camping thing despite some pressure from friends but popped down on a couple of days and took shedloads of photos of vehicles and people in uniforms.
First time round, went round with Kate and Simon in UNIT berets and DPMs. They've pretty much persuaded me to go for full silly UNIT-themed week next year i.e. enemy and Scientific Advisor recognition guides, UNIT Most Wanted posters etc. Hell, one of the guys who's about to go work in the UAE said he'd fly back next year for Beltring week if it meant he could play UNIT all week! Heh. Even got recognised, sort of, by guy who made our UNIT patches as we walked past his stall - "We made those!". Anyway, looks like I have to make up a new batch due to demand. No biggie, given how much the surplus ones went for on eBay...
We also had some amusing discussions about just how silly we could get with themes and still be allowed entry by the organisers. We figured that UNIT was fine, Colonial Marines and Mobile Infantry might be pushing it a bit and a unit of Klingons was almost certainly right out. I then hit on the ideal silly but legitimate theme: WWII Burma - Royal Artillery Concert Party ("Meet the gang 'cos the boys are here, The boys to entertain you...") i.e. It Ain't Half Hot Mum for anyone not familiar with this classic bit of highly politically incorrect British comedy. I suspect I've spent too much time thinking about convention costumes. Scarily, Kate seems keen on doing this one at some point.
Second time round, I went down with Nick in Vietnam gear. At one of the Vietnam compounds, I was identified by some guy I'm sure I've never seen before but, as Nick pointed out, I am pretty much the only oriental who's ever been seen in ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) Ranger kit so it was a logical guess! Weird seeing blonde white women dressed as Vietnamese villagers though.
Some very impressive displays there - top one was a pre-fab replica Fench country cottage built by a group of WWII US 101st Airborne re-enactors. Took them several days to put it up ("Longest erection he's ever had!" as one of the group said of the guy who originall built it!).
I also bought a fair bit of weird stuff, foremost of which: Picked up a USAF base security black beret and then got a set of cheap US woodland BDUs to go with it. Instant SGC gate guard outfit for SG-8. Had some trouble finding a pair of trousers that fit though. Seemed that all the stalls only had small or extra small. Kate's comment: "They're the only sizes the US military never needed" :-) Only other thing that came close was a set of ammo boxes, to be re-labelled for next year's UNIT camp - Gold bullets for Cybermen etc.
One disturbing thing though - sheer numbers of Waffen SS re-enactors. Bar one each Afrika Korps and Fallshirmjaeger groups, all WWII German groups appeared to be SS. Even scarier - some of them appeared to have dressed their kids in Hitler Youth uniforms. Still, I was amused to note the following at the parade they were staging:
- You'd think anyone who'd gone to the trouble of buying all this gear would at least learn enough German and drill to turn the correct way when instructed to do a left turn. Hell, even I worked that one out...
- There was a girl in full SS Panzer gear with a face festooned with spiky piercings. Something tells me the real SS probably wouldn't have approved of her.
- A Soviet T-34 rumbled up the path as the parade was forming up. Brilliant timing!