STERLING — This weekend marks the return of the spring rendezvous for the Beaver Creek Free Trappers.
You’ll see men and women, boys and girls living the life of the American mavericks of the 1830s at the grounds near Sterling.
You’ll probably hear the sounds of black powder guns firing as well as a whole lot of whoopin’ and hollerin’ today and Saturday.
Toby Butler, president of the Beaver Creek Free Trappers, said of the 30 or so members of the group that includes a lot of families and friendships formed through a love for history.
“We’re immersed in it,” he said. “It’s all about family and friends and having a good time while keeping history alive.”
The rendezvous is a return to form from the early 1800s where independent trappers would come together for days of contests, camping and commerce. The nights are meant for socializing and fun. The rendezvous system began when companies would haul supplies to specific mountain locations in the spring, engage in trading with trappers, and bring pelts back to communities on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the fall.
The Beaver Creek Free Trapper Rendezvous and other reenacted events are history-oriented and social occasions. The participants will be dressed in pre-1840s clothing, typically of handmade muslin, linen and buckskin and many carry black powder rifles. There also will be an array of handmade tomahawks and knives for throwing as well as fire-starting skills on display during the contests.
Butler said the idea behind the modern version of events is to preserve history and share it with another generation.
“Pretty much everyone you find at the rendezvous really loves their history,” he said.
A fall rendezvous is planned as well, although a date hasn’t been set yet, Butler said. That one will coincide with a partnership with the Museum of the Great Plains where an encampment at the Trading Post is held. He said that event is often busy with school field trips of students learning these old ways first-hand.
But this weekend, the public is welcome “all day, every day,” Butler said. Things usually kick up around 9 a.m. and competition ends at 4 p.m. each day. While you’re there, if you want to see what it’s all about, including trying out your shooting skills or finesse flinging your blade at the target, you’ll have the opportunity, he said.
“If they want to come out and try a black powder rifle or pistol,” he said, “we’ll be more than happy to accommodate.”
If you’re interested in taking things further, Butler said the Beaver Creek crew are out at their land at 9 a.m. every third Saturday or the month to keep their sharpshooting skills in shape, except for rendezvous months.
“We’re always looking for new members,” he said. “But you don’t have to be a member to come shoot with us.”