Lester River Rendezvous Wows Crowds With 1700's Life

By KBJR News 1

September 30, 2013 Updated Sep 30, 2013 at 10:39 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)

The British are trying to cross the river so this Prussian mercenary gun crew fighting for the American rebels is gathering grass for wadding.
Black powder and wadding are ram rodded into a state of the 18th century art anti–personnel cannon.

"Fire in the hole!" said the gunner.

Farther up the river, a signal cannon is fired to let traders know its time for rendezvous.

"A rendezvous would be traditionally a yearly or bi–yearly spring, fall or sometimes both where the fur traders would come in and trade." said Keith Chesney of Duluth.

Around here, the Ojibwe would trade furs for things made of biwabik – iron.

"We had an extensive trade route long before the waabi–nindengway, the white face came." said Don Chesney.

This is Duluth's Lester Park in 2013 but crossing the bridge Sunday transported people back to 1780 for the Lester River Rendezvous.
Other areas may love their Civil War re–enactors but up here, rendezvous gives people a chance to recreate the early days of native and voyageur interaction.
The Prussian cannons were a huge attraction.

"People have been coming up to us all day asking when the next time we're going to shoot off the cannon. It's a big draw. Everyone loves loud noises." said Dennis Chambers.

"Fire in the hole!" said the gunner before a second round of cannon fire.

"The rendezvous isn't just for men to make black smoke. Women are there, too, making other things." said reporter Dave Anderson in Lester Park.

"No, no, they couldn't have made it without us!" said Midge Johnson.

Women like Midge Johnson of Aitkin demonstrated taking fiber, combing it and spinning it into thread.
Over the weekend, thousands of people came to see the rendezvous even through a bought of foul weather.

"Even yesterday during the rain date, I'd say 150 people came in to watch the demonstrations." said Kevin Hoyt.

Keith Chesney of Duluth says he never thought much about our region's early history until he got roped into rendezvous.
Now he teaches it. He says its fun and it has fringe benefits.

"I'm sorry, getting to blow off cannons of course, that's fun!" said Chesney.

"Fire in the hole!" warned the gunner for the third round.

In Duluth, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

Folks hoping to check out another rendezvous are encouraged to go to the Big Island Rendezvous in Albert Lea, Minnesota on October fifth and sixth.