Hundreds gather for WWI reenactment in Rockford

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR)--- The annual event attracts thousands of battle enthusiasts from 18 different states around the country.

Dave Fornell has been a reenactor in the Midway Village Great War: World War I event since it began seven years ago.

"Like when you're 5, you go out and play in the woods, you play army, the sticks just get a lot more expensive as an adult," says Fornell.

Organizers spend several months preparing for the event. Equipment and costumes involve extensive research. But it's all worthwhile, the event is the largest WWI reenactment in the whole country.

Locals and history buffs both big and small come to Rockford for the special celebration.

"Rockford was so impacted by world war one because that was the beginning of Camp Grant and we had at any one time 50,000 soldiers here in Rockford who were getting ready to go off to the war," says museum president, David Byrnes.

Organizers say it's not only fun but a way to preserve and teach history.

"Students will actually come up and say I now get history because now I see what history is really all about, it's about people who lived in the past who had the same kinds of struggles, ambitions and dreams that people today do," says Brynes.