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Steve Alexander
Steve Alexander of Michigan has portrayed Lt. Col. George A. Custer at Fort Abraham Lincoln's Frontier Army Days for several decades. TOM STROMME/Tribune

The woman shooed Fort Lincoln Director Tracy Potter out of the background of her photo.

He was too modern for the men she wanted in her photo: Two men who looked like they stepped out of the 19th century. One man was her tour guide. The other was Lt. Col. George Custer.

Steve Alexander of Monroe, Mich., portrays Custer for the Frontier Army Days at the park south of Mandan. It is a two-day celebration at the state park that brings the area’s history to life.

“I’ve been coming here for 135 years,” Alexander joked.

In reality, he’s attended the Frontier Army Days for the past 24

years. He’s portrayed Custer since about 1986. That year, he followed Custer’s trail to the Battle of the Little Bighorn and when he reached that celebration, he was asked to re-enact the famous Army soldier.

This weekend at Fort Lincoln, members of the Frontier Army of the Dakotas Volunteer Re-enactors will pitch tents, give tours and demonstrate drills.

“They will camp on the parade grounds and do drills,” Potter said.

There will be demonstrations of marksmanship, saber challenges and some watermelons will be sliced by men riding horseback. At noon each day, the Radio Stars will perform.

So how does a power company worker from Michigan become a historical re-enactor? Well, it started with a love for history that was fostered by books and old western TV shows, Alexander said.

“I’ve been called the Custer Cliff Notes,” Alexander said.

He hopes he can pique people’s interest in Custer and that they will take the initiative to learn more about him, he said. He will go to the Bighorn re-enactment next weekend, then it’s off to Gettysburg for a re-enactment.

The Frontier Army Days are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children.

(Reach reporter Sara Kincaid at 250-8251 or sara.kincaid@bismarcktribune.com.)

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