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Time for Rendezvous in Jackson

JACKSON -- Visitors may compete in rifle-shooting, tomahawk-tossing and Dutch oven cooking at the 2008 Fort Belmont Rendezvous Saturday, or just watch historical demonstrations of rope-making, atl-atl throwing, blacksmithing, butter churning and wool spinning.

The festival continues on Sunday with a historical prairie hike and presentations from authors Steve Ulmen and Deb Nelson Gourley, who will also present on Saturday, all at Fort Belmont, Jackson.

"Hopefully we'll have decent weather and everything goes well," said Ken Kruse, vice president of the Fort Belmont Foundation. "... there'll be a lot of things to do and see."

The Rendezvous, which celebrates historical traditions of fur-trappers and traders, has a historical tradition of its own. The celebrations with re-enactors started back in the 1980s, initially starting with one re-enactor. That person invited his friends to come over as well and little by little, the Rendezvous started gaining more people through the years.

The historical rendezvous occurred sometime between 1825 and 1840, when beaver-trapping was at its peak, Kruse explained. Once a year, the trappers left the wilderness to buy supplies and sell furs, at a set location with many vendors and suppliers.

"That ended up being their social time," Kruse said. "They'd been back in the woods for months and this was their time to kind of get together. And of course, all these guys start bragging about how good they did, and how good they could shoot, and who had the best of what, so out of that, you started getting competitions."

Fort Belmont's Rendezvous will have its own competitions, hearkening back to the days of the fur-trappers.

The Dutch oven cook-off starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, because many foods take a long time to prepare using a simple fire. The judging will be at 4 p.m.

A traditional black powder rifle shoot will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and a tomahawk-throwing contest will begin at 4 p.m., with a $100 prize going to the top tomahawk-tosser.

Other games, competitions and activities for kids and adults start at 2 p.m. Saturday, with many prizes for players.

Throughout the day Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11 a.m., Ulmen, the author of the Toby Ryker trilogy, and Gourley, the author of Norwegian heritage stories, will offer presentations about their work.

Sunday's festivities kick off at 10 a.m. with a historical prairie hike, presented by Nancy Sather of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Additional hikes will take place during the day.

Demonstrations of butter-churning, throwing an atl-atl, blacksmithing, flint-knapping and starting a fire using only flint and steel will take place throughout the day.

"Basically, what the Rendezvous experience is, is a chance for people who like to camp and want to do something more unique than regular camping -- it gives them an opportunity to relive some of history," Kruse said.