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John Walkup is among the Otter Tail County black powder enthusiasts looking forward to the rifle demonstrations at the rendezvous. Walkup, who lives near Fergus Falls, exhibits his Connecticut Valley Arms Optima black powder 50-caliber rifle.
Tom Hintgen/FOCUS
John Walkup is among the Otter Tail County black powder enthusiasts looking forward to the rifle demonstrations at the rendezvous. Walkup, who lives near Fergus Falls, exhibits his Connecticut Valley Arms Optima black powder 50-caliber rifle. Tom Hintgen/FOCUS

Learn to hunt like the early settlers: Black Powder Mountaineers Rendezvous returns to Perham

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entertainment Perham, 56573

Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

People who want to get a taste of what early settlers experienced, including the use of black powder rifles and muzzle loading, can fulfill their wishes by visiting the Black Powder Mountaineers Rendezvous, happening this Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18-19, at Pioneer Village Park just north of Perham.

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The festival celebrates the first settlers of the area. Visitors will be able to wander through the primitive camp and interact with members of the Lake Country Mountaineers Black Powder Club. All the historical buildings and the store at Pioneer Village will be open to see, meals will be served and a dance will take place.

"It's something I look forward to every year," said Pat Hodnefield of Vergas, past president of the Lake Country Mountaineers Black Powder Club and still a member of the organization. "This year we'll again have close to 90 camps with black powder enthusiasts coming from throughout Minnesota and the two Dakotas."

Visitors will be able to witness black powder demonstrations and talk to individuals who know what it was like to hunt like the early settlers in the 1800s. They will learn about flintlock weapons, popular with black powder shooting enthusiasts.

"Many of us will be setting up our camps on Friday, Aug. 17," said Hodnefield. "We'll be on hand to visit with people from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Just after 1 p.m. on the final day, we'll present our awards and have our closing ceremony."

On Saturday, festival events will begin at 7 a.m. with a variety of vendors on site and a breakfast served.

The General Store will be open all day, offering snacks, beverages and ice cream, as well as souvenirs.

A horseshoe tourney will take place at noon, and there will be a beer garden by the ballroom.

Lunch will be served at about 1 p.m., and beer and brats will be served starting at 5 p.m.

A dance in the ballroom will wrap up the night, starting at 8 p.m. and going until midnight.

Breakfast will be served again on Sunday, and vendors will continue to sell their wares.

The Lake Country Mountaineers informally started in the mid-1970s, holding black powder demonstrations each year and then expanding when those became organized black powder shoots held every June and August.   

 By 1980, the participants decided to start a club. During the first meeting, the club was given the name Lake Country Mountaineers Inc.  The club's first five members were Dale Wright, Jerry Greenwood, Bill Rose, Alfred Dewey and Jerry Lucking. 

A lease from the city for some land adjacent to the Pioneer Grounds was given to the newly created club and organizing for the first Rendezvous began.  The August shoot date was chosen for the event, and the June shoot was eliminated. 

Wright remembers their first 'teepee,' consisting of poles, truck tarps and a log chain to wrap around the top to hold on the tarps. They also had trophies and ribbons for the shoot.

The third year the club had a real teepee brought by Cam Stale from Staples. Wright remembers the members standing around it thinking, "This is pretty great."

The current clubhouse (a log barn) was moved into place in 1983. Work is continuing to maintain this historic structure. 

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