New experiences at Old Wadena

The 30th annual event brought out record attendance.

Dick Oehlenschlager shares about the "pockets" where a pocket gopher keeps it's food during a demonstration at the Old Wadena Rendezvous on Saturday, Aug. 14. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

A record number of attendees enjoyed warm, dry and breezy conditions at the 30th annual Old Wadena Rendezvous.

Those attending took in live music, puppet shows, delicious fry bread, and paddle stirred popcorn. Twenty-one students learned to paint a barn quilt and many more learned to play ukulele, Ojibwe flute, and create pit fired pottery and birdhouses.

Still others simply wandered the shaded grounds and took in demonstrations of blacksmithing and learned what it took to be a fur trader in Wadena County's early history.

Jamie Robertson, an Old Wadena Society member, has helped organize the event for about 25 years and said attendance surpassed 400 people on Saturday and between 250-300 people made their way back into the forest on Sunday. It was made easy with regular tractor shuttles back and forth down the winding dirt path.


Mike Hoffman hammers on an axe head while demonstrating the blacksmith trade Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Old Wadena Rendezvous. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

The Purple Hulls were among the most popular music groups singing bluegrass and gospel tunes. Curtis and Loretta continued their regular participation in the Rendezvous with traditional tunes from Europe and America and many original songs.

Carter Odden tries his hand at a Limber Jack with the help of Lora Foust during the 2021 Old Wadena Rendezvous. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

George and Lee Gloege received the annual Old Wadena Society award of "Friend of Old Wadena and the Crow Wing River" on Sunday afternoon. The Gloege's are the owners and operators of Gloege's Northern Sun Canoe Outfitters on the Crow Wing River for 52 years. Duane Lund's long career as an interpreter of the history and culture of Old Wadena was also recognized with the dedication of a bench crafted by Brad Wegscheid of Wadena.

Mike Gibson takes tips on throwing a tomahawk at the Old Wadena Rendezvous Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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