Weather Forecast


Old Wadena Rendezvous: a slice of the past on tap this weekend

Photo provided The Clockwork Clown demonstrates the fine art of fire eating at the 2008 Old Wadena Rendezvous.

A crowd-pleasing act from the past few years is one of the performers featured this weekend at the Old Wadena Music Festival just north of Staples.

The Clockwork Clown, a mime show and fire-eating act with a healthy dose of comedy, is back once again, joining the muzzle loaders and wood carvers at the 19th annual rendezvous. The Clockwork Clown fire-eater and mime shows will be on the grounds twice a day both Saturday and Sunday.

Acoustic folk music will be coming from the main stage, with artists and artisans demonstrating nearby, storytelling and other entertainment throughout the Old Wadena grounds for the two-day event.

The traditional rendezvous encampment of the Crow Wing Muzzle Loaders group will be back. The re-enactors will be camping, baking bread and demonstrating how the original trappers and traders lived, roughly in the 1840 period.

There will be knife throwing, hatchet tossing and other contests open to both the trappers and the people walking through the camp.

Back will be trade tents including Blue Frog Traders and the candy store. Fry bread treats will be offered for sale at the food tent. Woodcarvers, potters and other artisans are expected on the grounds as well.

Also back this year is Ole Oleson with his stories about the Norwegian immigrant experience. Dick Oehlenschlager, a Wadena county native, will be on hand to tell about the animals and flowers and trees and geology of Old Wadena Park.

Among the story tellers will be Sally Robertson presenting interactive mini-puppet performances with kids on both days too. The Rendezvous gates open at 9 a.m., and the day-long schedule of acoustic music and storytelling begins at 10.

Saturday schedule

The main entertainment tent on Saturday will feature:

• Traditional Native American Indian flute music by Jon Romer, starting at 10 a.m. Romer is making his sixth annual performance at the Old Wadena Rendezvous. Romer, who is from Cass Lake and performs often for community events on the Leech Lake Reservation, has a long musical resume, including many years as vocal director for Gustavus Adolphus College and music director for the Leech Lake Tribal College.

• Leo and Kathy Lara at 11:30 a.m. (and 2:15 p.m.) involve their audience with the nueva cancion (new song) of the South American Andes, using a wide variety of authentic instruments. They bring the sounds of Latin America to life as they play and share the stories and traditions of the South American people and cultures.

• Chickpeace, who are Dee Furfaro and April Larson, will perform a combination of Celtic, folk, traditional American and many other music, starting at 12:45 p.m. (and 3:30 p.m.) Saturday. Furfaro does lead and harmony vocals and plays several instruments, including the washboard. Larson sings lead and harmony vocals and plays acoustic guitar, keyboard, Celtic harp, mandolin, accordion and banjo.

Sunday schedule

Music in the main entertainment tent on Sunday will begin with:

• Jon Romer at 11 a.m.

• At noon, Ole Oleson will have more of his stories from the Norwegian immigrant experience.

• At 1:15 p.m., Yeltzi will provide alternative bluegrass music. Jason Wussow and Sarah Softich combine fiddle music and acoustic and electric guitar.

Softich's interest in music began at an early age, living on Minnesota's Iron Range. In 2004 she released "Rusted and Bent," featuring alternative bluegrass songs inspired by her small town roots in northern Minnesota. She toured regionally, nationally and internationally with "Rusted and Bent," performing nearly 100 shows in 2005 at music festivals, colleges, and pubs. In fall 2005, Softich began recording "Pipe Dream," a collection of piano songs she wrote.

• At 2 p.m. Dave Mehling of Duluth will perform. Mehling is a cross between several recent song writing styles, including that of a young Bob Dylan.

• At 2:45 p.m. Caitlin Robertson, singer-songwriter from Gainesville, Fla., and LeAnn Perius, singer-songwriter from Brainerd, will combine. Later, after their set, they will join a jam session with other performers to end the day's entertainment.

Those are some of the scheduled events, but it seems every year there are a few more unexpected things at the historic Old Wadena site.