In the 1800s, the area that became Wildcat Den State Park used to serve as a meeting point for mountain men from west of the Mississippi and fur trading companies. Once a year, these companies would host a rendezvous where the mountain men could trade the bever pelts and other furs they collected to the companies, who paid them in supplies they would use to survive throughout the year ahead.
While these original rendezvous took place more than 150 years ago, the Pearl City Buckskinners works to keep this tradition alive and to teach people about the history behind them and the mountain men who participated in them. From Friday, September 20th through Sunday, September 22nd, the group will hold their thirty-second annual Wildcat Den Rendezvous and invites the whole community to attend. “We’re open for anybody to come out, look around, and ask questions,” said Todd Stammer, long time Booshway or director of the Wildcat Den Rendezvous.
This year’s Wildcat Den Rendezvous will feature a wide variety of events. Vendors, called traders, will set up stores featuring handmade goods including beadwork, candles, furs, and jewelry. True to the original rendezvous, many of the merchants at the event will allow people to trade handmade goods of their own for the wares on sale.
For those with children, the rendezvous will feature many activities suitable for them. According Stammer, volunteers will likely do a candy cannon where the fire candy from a small cannon and allow kids to collect it. Additionally, kids can take part in crafts, such as painting arrowheads. Kids can also take introductory lessons in shooting a bow and arrow, and those with some experience can try tomahawk throwing.
Adults looking for some friendly competition can compete in a number of events, like bow shooting, fire starting, knife throwing, tomahawk throwing, and trap setting. As Stammer put it, “we can do almost any contest you can think of, it just depends on what people are interested in.”
Whether you have participated in other events with the Pearl City Buckskinners before, or have yet to go to your first Wildcat Den Rendezvous, Stammer encourages you to come out and join in this year’s completely free fun. “It’s a good getaway from the hussle and bussle of everything,” he shared.
The Rendezvous will take place at the upper picnic level of Wildcat Den State Park, located at 1884 Wildcat Den Rd, Muscatine, and lasts for most of the day each day. “If the sun’s up, we’re probably up,” teased Stammer. To learn more about the Wildcat Den Rendezvous and other events the Pearl City Buckskinners lead, visit their Facebook page, Pearl City Buckskinners of Muscatine Ia.