Monday, September 01, 2008

CivicFest brings history to life

Tourists deplane from Air Force One at CivicFest (photo: North Star Liberty)It's a shame that CivicFest will be in town only seven days. There should be a steady stream of K-12 school groups and families seeing this. I strolled through CivicFest on Sunday afternoon, after picking up my press credentials for the Republican National Convention.

CivicFest is a collection of thirty-five museum-quality exhibits of American history and politics, rarely if ever shown outside Washington, D.C. It's an interactive, colorful, and fascinating display, similar to what you might see at the Smithsonian or our own Minnesota History Center. It's well worth a trip to the Minneapolis Convention Center to see it.

A sampling of what to expect:
  • Air Force One - tour a full-scale replica of part of Air Force One, the President's flying command post, and have your picture taken as you exit at the front door.
  • White House - see an incredibly detailed, 60-foot by 20-foot model of the White House, detailed down to the furnishing and lights. Have your picture taken sitting at the presidential desk in the Oval Office.
  • Campaign memorabilia - see delegate credentials, signs, buttons, and more from decades of presidential campaigns
  • Presidential vehicles - see FDR's 1938 Cadillac Secret Service limousine (courtesy of the IRS, it was previously owned by Al Capone) and a prototype of President Ronald Reagan's 1986 Cadillac limo
  • Five exhibits devoted to Minnesota innovation, sports history, outdoors, and more
  • Many other unique and interesting historic artifacts and interactive activities, plus a stage for live music
  • Over 1000 friendly volunteers staffing about 15,000 hours, according to information provided by CivicFest

Reagan memorabilia (photo: North Star Liberty)
Convention credentials (photo: North Star Liberty

There is also a veritable Disneyland of Republican merchandising available, at both the official CivicFest store and the adjacent area with over 100 third-party vendors. There is a ton of every item you could possibly want imprinted with McCain-Palin messages. I have been to my share of trade and collector shows, but the wide variety of inventory in some of these vendor booths made my head spin. There are also generically patriotic and non-political items on sale, but I didn't notice any items glorifying global warming or Fidel Casto.

Merchandise vendor at CivicFest (photo: North Star Liberty

CivicFest runs until Thursday, 9 am - 9:30 pm daily at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Admission ranges from $15 for adults to free for ages 8 and under, $10 for students, seniors (60+) and active-duty military. Group discounts are also available.

No comments: