While it has been two years since the last event, the weekend of August 14 and 15 will see the triumphant return of the Old Wadena Rendezvous and Chautauqua taking place at the Old Wadena County Park just north of Staples.

The first Rendezvous was staged in the summer of 1992, organized that year by the Wadena County Historical Society to note the 200th anniversary of a 1792 battle (more likely a slight skirmish) that took place in the neighborhood of Old Wadena. A Native American band of Ojibwe had confronted a French fur trapper, Jean Baptiste Cadotte and his party of trappers, but a full scale battle was averted. With the exception of last year when the event was canceled due to the coronavirus restrictions, there has been a Rendezvous gathering at Old Wadena every year.

The 2021 Rendezvous will include entertainment on the Old Wadena stage both days. Long time crowd favorites Curtis and Loretta take the stage at 1 p.m. both days of the Rendezvous.

They mix their own original music with traditional favorites. Dave Virnala brings his ballads again to Old Wadena both days at 11:30 a.m. Also returning is the bluegrass and gospel music group Purple Hulls.

Providing entertainment for young and old will be two different puppet shows, one by Paulino Brener and the other by Lisa Winter.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Chautauqua classes will be conducted each day, with the only charge for taking a class the price of admission. Participants are asked to register by email to info@oldwadenarendezvous.org. All materials needed will be provided. Classes scheduled are:

  • playing the ukulele, taught by Curtis and Loretta,
  • making traditional wooden flutes, taught by Jake Kaehne,
  • and making your own barn quilt with instructor Cynthia Buchholz.

Activities taking place around the Old Wadena campground will include the Crow Wing Muzzleloaders encampment, horse drawn wagon rides with Gregor Wegscheid, naturalist presentation by Dick Oehlenschlager and others. Demonstrations will include blacksmithing, maple syrup making, beekeeping, hand painting and birch bark canoe construction.

For the younger set, Jon Hamberg will be guiding in the making of bird houses.

Several popular activities from previous years will be back. Local artist Lowell Bayerkohler will again be on hand with his pottery wheel, while Cheryl Bannes returns to demonstrate pit fired pottery.

Many of the members of the Crow Wing Muzzleloaders, re-enactors who demonstrate the fur trapping lifestyle prior to 1840, have been valuable partners with the Old Wadena Society, the Rendezvous organizers, for the entire 30 year history.

The Rendezvous runs from 10 a.m. to. 4 p.m. both days, with gates open at 9 a.m. On Saturday only, a free ride to the Rendezvous from either Staples or Wadena is being offered through Friendly Rider by calling 218-631-5730 before August 14 to schedule your ride. You will also receive free admission if you ride the bus.

For other details and full schedule, check the Old Wadena Society website at www.oldwadenarendezvous.org

This year’s event was made possible through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, through an appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Additional support came from Wadena County, the Staples Motley Community Foundation and the Staples Host Lions.