Trappers come from across state for weekend rendezvous
STERLING — As the world seems to move faster than it ever has before, it’s sometimes refreshing to unwind and unplug.
A group of people will do just that, while also paying tribute to the past, as the members of the Beaver Creek Freetrappers gather this weekend for their spring rendezvous just outside of Sterling.
The event is modeled after the “Rocky Mountain Rendezvous” of the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s, when fur trappers would gather to resupply, sell their furs and meet with old friends.
“It was like a big vacation for them, a big hoorah,” participant Steve Strickland said. “There’d be gambling, horse racing, gun shooting, all that.”
For years now, trapper organizations around the country have hosted their own rendezvous events. Twice a year, the Beaver Creek group hosts anyone who enjoys re-enactments and recreations of 1820-40 era, and welcomes them to abandon their electronics and embrace the mountain man or mountain woman lifestyle for a weekend. Each participant wears the appropriate attire, sleeps in a tent and can buy weapons, clothing or tools at the trading tent. Additionally, barely anything is store-bought; the group (or most of the group at least) only uses meat they have either hunted or trapped.
“I’m pretty sure we’re eating bear tonight, actually,” Deidra Gardner said.
Strickland said at least 11 camps were set up for the weekend. Many of the guests are returning campers who have been participating for several years. For many of them, like Andy “Possum” East, the interest begins simply enough, often with shooting or woodworking.
“I started out with just muzzle-loader shooting competitions three years ago,” East said. “I honestly thought that’s what this was. Then I learn we get to wear cool clothes, and I was sold.”