Triton students watch the wood carver at work on Friday.
Photo by Tara Lindquist
By Alexa Nash
On Thursday and Friday last week, students from all over the area filled the grounds at the bend of the Zumbro River at Riverside Park in Mantorville learning about the fur trade era. Saturday and Sunday the living history experience was open to the public.
The people who work at the Rendezvous have more than an average connection to one another. They work together in competition and in companionship, and consider themselves interconnected like a large family. I interviewed a couple of people working at the event, and they all said the same thing; the Rendezvous is a family. This colony of people from many places connects in this one home to tell our country's stories together.
Deb Justig has been working at the event for around 15 to 20 years now, and stays with them from April to October, working on the weekends to show visitors how the people once cooked their foods and what they might have made. She takes modern and old recipes and cooks and stores them in the old fashioned way through antique utensils and canning. She taught herself the craft and has searched through antique stores to find most of her utensils, pots and pans to make the foods and processes she demonstrates. On weekdays she goes back to her job at the Hope Center in Faribault. Her family also helps her around the festival, with her husband showing off archery and tomahawk throwing, and her stepdaughter and son helping out as well. It was her son that got them first into the Rendezvous, and they have enjoyed it ever since.
The duo that runs the gun informational stand is Bob Peterson and Bill Poty. Bill is a beginner at the trade and has a daughter also participating in the event. Meanwhile, Bob has been doing it for about 20 years, even through the summer, which Bob explained several members take part of the summer off due to the extreme heat and the weight of the authentic clothing. Bob was inspired by Daniel Boone and Davey Crocket, and when he went to the Big Island Rendezvous in Austin, MN for the first time, he thought it would be something interesting and fun to do. Therefore, he bought his first rifle; and with his whole family, kids and grandkids helping him, became involved in the event. Bob likes working there, because he loves the whole camping experience and how the entire event is like a family looking out for everyone. He attends Rendezvous in Iowa and Wisconsin, and also does 1812 war reenactments.
Another man I talked to was named Mark Manzow, but also goes by the name of Mad Mark. He dresses himself as a Rogers Ranger, and takes up the character completely for the visitors. He works for the Rendezvous every weekend, except for those in the summer and winter months. He is officially a part of the Mazeppa group, and has been to both Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. He enjoys the work and finds it relaxing and as well a family experience.
Each Rendezvous personnel have a unique story to tell and a fascinating trait to share to show off our history. It's the workings of these people together that make it such a fun, historical and enlightening event.