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Old Wadena Rendezvous this weekend

A wooden stairway at Old Wadena County Park takes hikers on a journey into the past. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Making something old new again is the theme of this year's 28th annual Old Wadena Rendezvous and Chautauqua, Aug. 11-12 at the Old Wadena Park just north of Staples on the banks of the Crow Wing River. Featured will be the traditional encampment of the Crow Wing Muzzleloaders, fur trappers re-enacting the pre-1840's Rendezvous lifestyle. There will be the fry bread and live music all day both Saturday and Sunday, featuring among others, Dawn and Gary Timbs, Singleton Street, Dave Virnala and Brothers Burn Mountain. Margo McCreary and her puppet show and Jake Kaehne and his Indian flute are two other crowd pleasing acts returning to the Rendezvous this year. In addition, over two days at the Rendezvous, the two performers will be presenting Chautauqua classes on storytelling and playing the Native American flute. What is Chautauqua? Pronounced sha-TAW-kwa, it is an adult education movement that swept the United States in the last half of the 19th Century and continued until the 1920's and after in some areas. Chautauqua assemblies might last a full week, usually held at a lakeside encampment such as the first one at Lake Chautauqua, New York, and often under a big tent. As telephones, radio and television came into use, the Chautauqua movement faded away. Under the Rendezvous big tops and in the new Old Wadena pavilion, anyone can learn puppetry and flute playing, paint a mini barn quilt, make a birdhouse, learn to square dance, how to shoot a BB gun safely or learn the basics of canoe handling and safety, plus several other learning endeavors. All classes at the Rendezvous are free with one low admission to the Rendezvous ($10 per person or maximum of $25 per family).

Check out the Old Wadena webpage ( or call (218) 371-6403 to register for classes. In addition to visiting with the "buckskinners" camping among the Crow Wing Muzzleloaders group, Rendezvous goers can experience several classes and hands-on activities:

• Storytelling and puppetry. This class will meet at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Pre-registration recommended by calling (218) 373-6403.

• Indian flute playing. Same times as above and pre-registration recommended.

• Paint a barn quilt. Beth Kern and Mary Noska, with Lisa Kajer, will lead participants in creating a two by two mini barn quilt. This class was limited in number and is full.

• Build a birdhouse. Jon Hamberg will lead students, especially younger ones, in creating a useful birdhouse to take home. Pre-registration not required.

• Square dancing. Members of the Wadena Whirlaways will lead any newcomers in square dancing at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Rendezvous.

• Canoeing workshops led by Bob Schaefer at 2 p.m. Saturday, will focus on proper techniques and emphasize safety.

• Birchbark canoe demonstrations. The owners of the Hafeman Boat Works, from Bigfork, experienced birch bark canoe builders, will show birchbark and cedar strip canoe building techniques.

• BB gun safety. Darlys Hamberg will be teaching gun safety and use.

Once again this year's Rendezvous will feature both musical entertainment under one tent and demonstrations under a second tent by a variety of artisans, including a blacksmith, potter, wood carver, rope making bee keeping and several others. Wadena County native Dick Oehlenschlager will be present discussing the natural wonders of the Crow Wing River habitat. Chairs are provided but guests are urged to bring their own lawn chairs for an enjoyable and relaxing stay at the Old Wadena Park. Full details of the 2018 Rendezvous, including directions to Old Wadena, can be found in the Rendezvous publication which was included in the Aug. 1 and 2 editions of area newspapers. For questions, check out the website ( or the link to the Old Wadena Facebook page (which include directions to the Old Wadena County Park). The Rendezvous is presented by the Old Wadena Society, a non-profit group of volunteers. The Rendezvous is made possible through the financial support of several Staples and Wadena area business sponsors, and the Staples Host Lions. Partners of the Old Wadena Society include Wadena County, the Staples Motley Area Community Foundation and the Five Wings Arts Council. Major funding for the Rendezvous is made possible by the voters of Minnesota, through a Legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.