Reliving History in Siouxland, Lewis and Clark Rendevous, Lewis and Clark State Park

6 Jul

This couple has been participating for 30 years as re-enactors of Lewis and Clark Rendevous festivals, this one taking place at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A re-enactors at the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival waits his turn to throw an axe at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lewis and Clark State Park near Oanawa has a yearly Lewis and Clark Rendevous where like-minded individuals dress up for the part and re-enact what some might consider a fur traders exposition where they get together as happened in the early days of west exploration. The traders would show off fur trappings they collected and resupply themselves for another year with essentials to once again go exploring. People go all out and try to maintain the the experience by camping in tents and cooking food by camp fire. I attended the rendevous a few years ago, and this time saw there were fewer participants as well as visitors taking in the experience.

In talking with some participants it was sad to hear that attendance for both re-enactors and interested citizens was declining. The surrounding campground area held far few tents than I previously remembered.

Re-enactors of the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival are camped out at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A commemoration of the expedition that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark undertook after the Louisiana Purchase, and where current day re-enactors gather for the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And even though during summer there are so many activities going on it seems even local history (Lewis and Clark Slept Here) falls by the wayside for ball games, lake boating and other family activities.

A hide skinning display is set up as re-enactors perform various tasks during the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Musicians play era-specific songs during the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But those who attended made the most of it. A group of outliers played traditional songs even though they didn’t dress the part. Well not all of them.

A musician plays banjo along with some others on fiddle, harp, and guitar during the re-enactors festival at the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A couple join in with other musicians as they play era specific tunes while re-enactors portray period people during the Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And those attending got the chance to ride in a keel boat (motor powered) on the lake at the Lewis and Clark State Park which was probably alright with them as it saved them from oar duty. It was a nice day to be outside, campfire smells and cooking wafting through the air and thankfully, not many bugs, yet. I just hope the history and the sacrifice that these “mountain men” and early explorers doesn’t fall by the wayside, the name of the park referencing some guys long ago that took a long hike, made a few discoveries and then returned home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors ride a motor-enabled keel boat as re-enactors portray period people during Lewis and Clark Rendevous festival at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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