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34th annual Rendezvous at
Fort de Chartres June 5 & 6    
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[MAY 20, 2004]  PRAIRIE DU ROCHER -- The Midwest's largest gathering of 1700s-era soldiers, settlers, traders and campers, the 34th annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres, will be Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6, at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site near Prairie du Rocher.

Rendezvous features 1700s military units, traditional craft demonstrations, period music and dancing, an 18th-century fashion show, black powder shooting events, cannon firings, and more from the time when France controlled what is now the state of Illinois. All activities are free and open to the public, and many feature public participation. The event is co-sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and Les Coureur de Bois de Fort de Chartres.

Each day's activities begin with the opening ceremony and "Posting of Colours" at 10 a.m. The retreat ceremony ends each day's activities at 4:30 p.m. The Rev. Albert Kreher of St. Joseph's Church in Prairie du Rocher will lead Mass at Fort de Chartres Chapel at 8 a.m. Sunday, June 6.

Rendezvous is famous for its period shooting and military competitions. Saturday will feature rifle aggregate and smoothbore competition from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday will feature a knife and hawk throwing competition from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and La Grande Cannon Fusillade (The Big Cannon Shootout) from noon to 2 p.m. The fort's cannon will be fired hourly, preceded by an instruction in the art of cannon firing by the 17th Illinois Territorial Rangers, French Colonial Artillerie and a British artillery unit.

Scores of period artisan and craft demonstrations will include pottery, blacksmithing, silversmithing, coopering, pewter casting, felt making, silk ribbon embroidery, bow making, weaving, woodworking, basketry, hornsmithing, gunsmithing, treenware making, silhouette cutting and cordwaining. Many items will be for sale.

Period music and dance will be provided both days. Performers include Great River Fife and Drum Corps; Tippecanoe Ancient Fife & Drum Corps; Colonial Fife & Drum Corps; Traveler's Dream; La Guiannee Singers; The Peacocks; Booneslick Strings; and the 42nd Highlanders Band of Pipes, Fifes & Drums.

"Theophratus von Gerlach, Doctor of Physick, Surgeon and Apothecary" will return this year to present talks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. inside the fort. The doctor is portrayed by Steven Gerlach, who will discuss the state and theory of 18th-century medicine and the medical treatment of children at the time. He will demonstrate the use of the major medical tools from the 1700s, including detailed descriptions of bloodletting and boring through the skull. The doctor will also demonstrate the apothecary's skill in distilling the essences of herbs for medicines.

A three-day bow building class will be taught by Bob Linksvayer Friday through Sunday, June 4-6. Students using period hand tools will be taught how to design and build an Eastern-style Woodland flat bow based on the individual body measurements of each student. Students will also be taught how to make a Flemish single-loop bowstring of natural material and how to decorate and finish their bows. The public is invited to watch the class in action and ask questions or visit the 18th-century archery shop with displays of bows, arrows and tools. The class and shop will be located along the east wall of the fort, just north of the bake oven.

Re-enactors will portray a 1700s French patron, or river trader, in the fort's storage loft; and French Marines in the Officer's Quarters and the Guard Room. Marines will also be stationed at the fort's gate to welcome visitors and guard the fort much as they did in the 1750s. Dan Hechenberger will portray a French Jesuit priest in the Fort de Chartres Chapel.

Madeleines, an 18th-century French cookie, will be baked in the fort's beehive oven by members of the Randolph County Historical Society.

Rendezvous isn't all buckskin and muskets. "Fads and Fancies," an 18th-century fashion show hosted by Ted Mueller, returns at 1 p.m. both days on the stage. Ladies and gentlemen will model garments from the 1700s, from the simple to the fancy and from the practical to the outrageous.

An 18th-century agricultural area behind the fort's bake oven will feature a working yoke of oxen. Interpreters will show visitors the French kitchen garden, garden shed and French chickens.


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The River Gate Food Court will feature a variety of period food, drink and musical entertainment under a large tent. A period dance for participants and visitors will be from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday inside the fort.

The Historic Creole House in Prairie du Rocher will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days for tours. Sponsored by the Randolph County Historical Society, the tours feature an updated history of the house, including oil paintings of the Henri family from the 1850s. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Those who use the special event parking area near Fort de Chartres will be charged $5 per car and $10 per bus. There will be no modern camping facilities.

The Ste. Genevieve-Modoc ferry will operate throughout Rendezvous weekend. The ferry will run between Ste. Genevieve, Mo., and the Illinois side of the river from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 4; from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 5; and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 6. Fees are $7 per car or pickup truck ($12 round trip) or $12 if towing a trailer. The charge is $25 for school or tour buses.

Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is located four miles west of Prairie du Rocher and 37 miles south of Belleville. Take Route 3 to Route 155 and follow the signs.

Scheduled events both days

10 a.m. -- Opening ceremony and Posting of Colours; W. Malcolm Duncan, drum major

10:30 a.m. -- French Marines of Fort de Chartres, drilling (parade ground)

11 a.m. -- Booneslick Strings, traditional music (stage)

11:30 a.m. -- Great River Fife and Drum Corps, Godfrey

Noon -- Lewis & Clark Fife & Drum Corps

12:30 p.m. -- Traveler's Dream, French colonial music (stage)

1 p.m. "Fads & Fancies," 18th-century fashion show (stage); Ted Mueller, commentator

1 p.m. -- The Campfollowers Band (outside fort, near gate)

1:45 p.m. "La Guiannee," traditional French New Year's song (stage)

2 p.m. -- Tippecanoe Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Lafayette, Ind.

2:30 p.m. 42nd Royal Highlanders Band of Pipes, Fifes, & Drums

3 p.m. -- The Peacocks (behind museum)

3 p.m. -- The Campfollowers Band (stage)

3:30 p.m. -- Colonial Fife & Drum Corps, Alton

4 p.m. -- Traveler's Dream, French colonial music (stage)

4:30 p.m. -- Retreat ceremony

Both days: The Peacocks, the Booneslick Strings ands the Campfollowers will perform period music at various locations. The Primitive Lifeways area, southeast of the bake oven, will feature archery demonstrations and competition. Be sure to visit Theophratus von Gerlach, Doctor of Physick, Surgeon and Apothecary, who will be giving talks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 2 to 4 p.m. inside the fort. Cannon firing demonstrations occur on the hour.

Scheduled events on Saturday or Sunday only

Saturday, June 5

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. -- Rifle aggregate and smoothbore competition

8-10 p.m. -- A dance for event participants and visitors, inside the fort

Sunday, June 6

8 a.m. -- Mass at Fort de Chartres Chapel

11 a.m. - 2 p.m. -- Knife and hawk throw competition

Noon - 2 p.m. -- La Grande Cannon Fusillade (The Big Cannon Shootout)

[Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
news release]

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