47th annual Fort Bridger Rendezvous kicks off today

Two mountain men take a moment to chill along Traders’ Row during last year’s Fort Bridger Rendezvous. PIONEER FILE PHOTO/Virginia Giorgis

FORT BRIDGER — This year’s Fort Bridger Rendezvous and black powder shoot will run from today through Labor Day, Sept. 2, and serves as a step-back-in-time to the American West’s pre-1840s in the Rocky Mountains.

The state site serves as the backdrop for this excursion into the past where mountain men and pilgrims, with Native Americans bedecked in ceremonial dress take center stage.

The Fort Bridger Rendezvous continues to be the second largest visitor event in Wyoming, only bested by Cheyenne Frontier Days. It is also the largest Rendezvous in the nation and was the brainchild of the event’s first Booshway Dick James.

Breaking tradition, this year and earlier, the Booshway and Segundo aren’t of the burly-mountain man genre, but of the gentler-species. As the previous year’s Segundo moves up to Booshway, or bossman, the trail has placed two women in the top ranks for this year’s rendezvous. (Equal rights in the 1800s? Maybe the guys just want to come and play?) And with the change in the times, the genders, the head hocho is no longer called the Booshway or Bossman, but the Bourgeois.

This year’s Bourgeois is Shalayne Hunziker. She is assisted by Segundo Nancy Turner, who as tradition serves, will move into the top job next year.

The Rendezvous replicates those in the early American West and a time when men lived by their wits in the sparsely inhabited western mountains and spent the winter trapping for furs or plews and were like money in the bank.

The early 1800-rendezvous period, 1825-1840, preceded much of the westward expansion, but proved to be a great business opportunity for men like William Ashley. He gathered supplies—black powder, rifles, knives, tomahawks, beads and much more and headed west. Trappers came to a preselected site and traded their plews for the merchandise to get them through the next season.

The rendezvous features a full slate of events: shooting, knife and tomahawk throws, archery shoots, Native American dancing, dutch oven cookoff, archery shoots, mountain man run, kids activities Lomond High-landers Pipe Band and more.

Activities over the weekend will start with the flag ceremony today at 8 a.m. at the Fort Bridger State Site.


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