The once annual Walk Back in Time will now be scheduled every other year, and there will be no Walk Back in Time in 2019. The Audrain County Historical Society event will start its new schedule of being held in even-numbered years in 2020.
“I know there will be people that are disappointed and we are, to a point, too, but this is just giving us time to hopefully do more,” society Executive Director Lori Pratt said.
The decision was made to hopefully strengthen the event society Pratt and Living History Coordinator Paul Baum said.
“It has been, for 17 years now, every year, and I think that is going to scare a lot of people,” Pratt said. “Our re-enactors, we obviously want them to come back. They’re the show.”
Some events have changed their presentation schedules in recent years, Pratt said, while most still do keep a yearly schedule, Baum added.
“If they don’t replace their re-enactors at an adequate rate, then they tend to decline,” he said. “That’s part of it. The real reason of course is financing.”
By moving to a biennial schedule, the society will have more time to do fundraising, promotion and advertising for the event. Grant cycles also have a tendency to run every other year, Pratt said.
“We are really blessed to in this area to have (Miriam Arnold Edmonston Foundation), A.P. Green, Griffin, all these foundations, but you can’t go to them every time and ask for something,” she said.
The society also relies on sponsorships from local businesses, along with society members who help provide funds for the event.
Baum said other events are usually held over two days, with one large evening event. Walk Back, however, because it is held over three days, can have large evening events. The evening events have to be different each year, he said.
“(Walk Back) tends to dominate Lori’s desk,: Baum said. “We get started about May… and everything else she has to set aside she would like to be doing. If I had my druthers I would rather do it yearly, but yet there are certain reasons going to every other year may strengthen the event.”
Buildings on the society’s campus are more than 150 years old and they have maintenance needs to keep them in working condition for visitors and other events. By changing the event’s schedule, it will better allow the society to conduct the continued maintenance needs of its buildings, Pratt said. “We want people to know the event is not faltering in any way,” she said.
The 2018 event was the society’s most successful event in recent years, Baum said.
“We’re not entering decline at all. It’s something we want to avoid,” he said. “We want to bring something significantly new (every other year) like we had the Aztecs last year. That was a feature event. And we’d like to have a feature every event.”
Odd years will be for planning, along with holding fundraising for Walk Back. “We want to keep Walk Back in people’s thoughts, so they aren’t forgetting in the odd years,” Pratt said.
Baum is the main coordinator for Walk Back. He is the person who contacts re-enactors and creates the map for how guests can walk through the event, which runs from pre-U.S. History through to today.
“We have to consider the greatest benefit for the historical society and for the event itself,” Baum said. “We’re looking for a way to make it better and defend it from decline.”