Bear Creek Rendezvous returns Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12 and 13, to the Mark Twain Cave complex, 300 Cave Hollow Road. The annual event commemorates the early 1800s through the explorations of Lewis and Clark.
During that era, mountain men, fur trappers, travelers and Native Americans gathered at specific river banks to display their wares. They bartered, traded and sold and swapped items such as pelts, skins, guns and other weapons and jewelry for commodities including coffee, sugar, whiskey and rum.
The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the country in 1803, and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began exploring a passage from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. Following Lewis and Clark was Manuel Lisa, representing the Missouri Fur Company of St. Louis. Luis was searching for traders to supply the company with skins and pelts — beaver pelts were in high demand to create top hats and other clothing items.
John Jacob Astor, Daniel Boone and the Missouri Fur Company would trade as many as 500,000 muskrat pets and deer and buffalo hides with Native Americans and settlers of the new frontier.
Hunters and trappers worked throughout the winter when pelts were at their thickest, and, therefore, would command a higher trading value. Trading would take place during the summer when river navigation was optimal. This became known as the Rendezvous Era, with traders returning from the days-long events with pelts, plus Indian-crafted jewelry, souvenir animal claws and beads and other ornaments.
The events included games of chance and contests of skill and sport, as well as dancing, feasting, music and campfire storytelling.
The Bear Creek Rendezvous introduces families to the commerce, dress, entertainment, skills and food of the era. It includes an open-air market, story-telling and lie-swapping, authentic food and drinks, demonstrations of activities of the period, children’s games, tribal music with drums and flutes and dancing.
Bear Creek Rendezvous is sponsored by the Tri-State Standing Bear Council, which educates people about tribal history and culture.
Hours are 9 a.m. to dusk Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Omeyocan Dancers will perform at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.