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Mountain Man rendezvous at Prairie D’Ane

By Staff, 11/27/20 3:23 PM

PRESCOTT – An old-fashioned mountain man rendezvous is being held at the Prairie D’Ane battlefield this weekend.

A group of about 15 mountain men and their families came to the battlefield to check it out and see how things could go when they return the week of March 13-20 for the 37th Annual Southwestern Regional Rendezvous. Between 100 and 150 members are expected to set up camp, sell their wares and, basically, have a good time as they compete in different areas popular for mountain men back in the day. The group on hand this weekend are members of the Early Arkansaw Reenactors Association.

Steve Holmes set up this weekend’s rendezvous having heard about the battlefield from Keenan Williams. Holmes called James Thompson and Theresa Laugherty and set things up. Holmes was returning from another rendezvous and stopped by William’s place to get a part for a black-powder rifle. Williams actually suggested they come to Prescott and check things out.

Paul Ridgell, a local reenactor, said more than 2,000 hours has been put in improving the battlefield. Ridgell pointed out a new bridge will help people get from one area to another and added work will continue to make the road smoother for those who attend.

Holmes said similar rendezvous are held from Florida to California and are popular events.

It’s easy to see why as it provides a look at how things were in the 1800s, especially for those who chose to live away from cities and towns.

Holmes talked about how, in the 19th century, the mountain men would hunt and trap game, tanning the hides which were used as barter for things they needed. Traders would come to designated locations once a year and set up shop. These would include bars, blacksmith shops, places where the mountain men could get their rifles repaired or buy new ones and pick up little things like nails, needles and S-hooks. The S-hooks were primarily used in cooking and to hold things off the floor or dirt.

It wasn’t unusual for mountain men to wind up heavily in debt at the end of these trading sessions, especially if they paid visits to the camp women and bars. Items that could be purchased in a town for a few pennies would bring in 50-60 cents at these trading camps.

Holmes showed how mountain men made fire, using a kit with a flint, steel and char cloth. He also gave a demonstration on how blacksmiths made S-hooks.

The rendezvous also has a “diner” where visitors can get anything from a snack to a full meal. There was a tin smith on hand, canvas shop and general store – so to speak.

Things aren’t easy for those who make their wares by hand as materials aren’t always easy to get – especially tin and copper. While some modern tools are used, everything is primarily made by hand.

The upcoming rendezvous will have plenty of events for adults and children. There will be a primitive archery shoot, fire making contest, cooking contest, knife and hawk throw, smooth boar and rifle shoots, highland games, round robins, pie contest and pistol shoots, among others. Games for children include daily quests and a special treasure hunt.

There will also be daily raffles, colleges and seminars, demonstrations and plenty of items for sale. Firewood and water will be available at the site, with showers off site. One of the raffle items is a handmade knife with a value of $500.

While this weekend’s event is closed to the public, the regional event will be open to all who are interested in attending. Early set up for the traders and mountain men will be March 10-12, with long and short term areas available. Set up will be from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Long term areas will be closed to vehicle traffic at 6 p.m. March 12.

For more information, call Steve Holmes at 501-368-3167, or James Thompson at 501-860-2547.

Pre-registration must be done by Feb. 24, 2021. Adults are $25 each, $5 for children, $17 for medallion, $20 for sprinkle mug and $65 for traders. At the gate, adults prices will be $35, children are $10, medallion $17, sprinkle mug $20 and trader $75. Checks can be mailed to SWRR, P.O. Box 543, Jefferson, TX 75657.