Rituals and Revelries at Rendezvous
Lester Park Rendezvous a Time Machine to the Fur Trade
WEST DULUTH, Minn.- “This man, he asked the chief one day: how are you, my friend? The chief said: my brother–friend, it’s like I have 2 wolves inside of me,” begins a storyteller.
“The black one representing everything that I shouldn’t think, feel, do, desire. The white one representing everything that I should.”
“The man asked him he said: my brother friend, which one is winning?
“And the chief broke into a big smile and he said: the one that I feed the most.”
This is just one example of the ancient legends heard around the Lester River Rendezvous.
Its Voyageur Village is transformed into the world of the 18th century Fur Trade.
Occasionally, the cackle of wood-fires heating cast-iron pots breaks: “Prepare for cannon FIRE!”
A cannon blast rocks the camp, covered ears futile to its power.
While entertaining, actors said that the re–enactment reminds Northlanders of an important time in their history.
“This is basically where the Fur Trade really started for the northern states,” said Jacques LaChristian, portraying a French-Canadian Fur Trader.
LaChristian has been coming to the rendezvous since it began 20 years ago, and has been rendezvousing for 38 years.
For him, any and all time dedicated to historical re–enactment is worth it.
“If we forget our history, we lose a lot of who we are and what created this nation.”
Further down the way, a blacksmith pounds away at his work before heating it in his old windup contraption.
Products are handmade here right in front of you, using techniques from the 17 and 18 hundreds.
But if contemporary is more your thing, there is plenty of that at the rest of the Rendezvous.
The band rocks through their cover of Elvis’s “Burnin’ Love,” to a crowd so jubilant they can barely stay in their hay bale-seats.
White tents are sprinkled around Lester Park, housing the 60 vendors. There are products for parents, crafts for the kids, and even delights for the doggies.
Despite the piercing windy weather, the park is filled with Duluthians chomping on corndogs, enjoying all the rendezvous has to offer.
“It’s a little chilly but it’s actually not too bad,” said Lexi Yeweihe. She brought her family to the rendezvous, as they visit from out-of-town.
“It’s a lot of fun, they got some good vendors here, exciting things to do. It’s nice that a lot of it is free as well.”
Though the chilliness does bother some. When asked if he would come again next year, young Jameson responded:
“NO WAY! Not if it’s cold.”
We’ll see if you feel that way after getting some warm Kettle Corn in you, Jameson.