SPENCER TWP. — Under a small wooden pavilion four young girls sit dressed in long, cotton dresses, their hair pulled back in braids. There’s a sea of white canvas tents behind them and the smell of a campfire smoke in the air.
It’s a scene from the 1840s, but the girls are talking about Lady Gaga.
The 24th annual Old Northwest Territory Primitive Rendezvous is a nine-day event where participants can escape the year 2010 and return to “a simpler time.”
Gary Flegel, the “booshway” or organizer of the Old Northwest Rendezvous, said the event is part of the National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation, a nonprofit organization that organizes Living History Rendezvous all over the country.
“We’re trying to keep the spirit of the 1840s alive,” he said.
Flegel said the Old Northwest Rendezvous is one of five that will be hosted this year nationwide. He said the location for the rendezvous changes from year to year and this is the second time it has been held in Spencer Township at 10712 Chatham Road. The first time was in 2007.
The event began Friday and runs through Saturday, and Flegel said there are more than 160 people participating.
“We’ve got people here from Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas … even Florida,” he said. “There are professors, paramedics, professionals, all different folk.”
To stay the nine days living life in the 1840s, registrants pay about $55 depending when they register. But Flegel said not just anyone can come out and pitch a tent.
“We have rules and regulations,” Flegel said. “Their tents have to be made of canvas … they need to dress in period clothing and modern items need to be out of sight. Most people will go 110 percent to make sure they stick to the period.”
Flegel said along with the campsites and vendor tents, there is an archery range and a tomahawk-throwing area, “all activities specific to the time” that stretch across 40 acres.
Shelia Guy, of Alliance, sells pewter and said she has been doing events like the Rendezvous for 27 years. She said it’s the community that is built at the events that keeps her coming back.
“It’s a small community interested in preserving history with everyone helping and looking out for each other,” she said.
Flegel said the rendezvous will have public days 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday with activities like tomahawk- and knife-throwing and 1840s-era vendors.
We invite the public “so they can see this and see how people lived,” Flegel said.
Contact Becky Tener at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.