Friday, January 27, 2012


Alafia River Rendevous  - any of you ever hear of it?  Well, it is a reenactment of a pre-1840's encampment.  Dan wanted to go last year but we were on our cruise (I know, poor us), but with everything that has been going on this year with his health we did not do our January cruise.  That meant we were home for him to go to Rendevous last Friday.

Dan and I had been one other time since they moved the Rendevous to this particular piece of property.  They used to have it outside Bartow or Lake Wales, Florida (to tell the truth, I don't remember exactly where as it was close to 15 years ago), but then the group that sponsers the reenactment bought this huge piece of property on the Alafia River and have had the Rendevous there ever since. 

When we went before it was very interesting, we were able to talk to many different people who were really interested in protraying the frontiersmen/women of the time.  They were very particular about their dress, their camps, what could be seen and used.  The people knew their history.  There were a few vendors, but the majority of the encampment were living historians. 

Dan really enjoyed going and looked forward to being able to go again - he has talked about maybe getting involved with the reenactment group since he loves this time in history.  This somewhat surprises me, as I have always thought that he was more interested in the "mountain man" which would be during the Civil War/post Civil War period - so the post 1840's. 

I have always been interested in the Civil War period and loved going to the reenactment of the Battle of Olustee in North Florida when we lived there about four years ago.  Not only was it interesting to see all the period dress of the reenactors but the reenactment of the actual battle (which was the largest battle fought in the state of Florida) was incredible!

The Battle of Olustee

But I digress - back to Rendevous.  While there were some people who were dressed in period dress, I think that the sponsors were not as stringent as they used to be on the rules.  We saw many items that were plastic in plain site, motorized items, and coolers were very prevelant.
This was one of the "living" areas of the reenactors.  I have to say that some had their campers and motorhomes parked in the distance (hidden in the trees) and IF I ever did participate in a reenactment I would have to have my camper.  I would most certaintly want my comfy bed at night - not a pallet on the hard ground.  I would not make a good pioneer.

This was a shot of the kids looking for a "needle in a haystack".  It seemed to us that the kids were having a great time, but I kept asking myself why weren't they in school?  Of course, I guess they could be homeschooled (which is not a bad thing).  I guess it is just the teacher gene in me - on a school day I just think kids should be in school.  (But once again, they did not have metal roofed building pre 1840 - not authenic.)

The encampment this year was HUGE!  Not so much with the reenactors and their living area but with vendors.  There were "streets" and "streets" of vendors.  I would say that there were at least 6 "streets" that were several "blocks" long and we didn't cover the entire area.  There were only 4 "streets" of living areas and part of those had vendors mixed in. 

Am I being picky - probably.  However, IF you advertise that you are something, in this case a "pre 1840's frontier reenactment" and you have rules posted on your website, then I think you should follow yours stated rules.  I mean, if I were a reactor and I spent good money on a costume (and believe me these costumes are NOT cheap) and then there were other people that were allowed to participate that were not following the rules, I think I would be a little upset.  I don't know, I just think if you choose to participate in an activity like this - you need to follow the customary rules and if you don't you shouldn't participate.  But then that's just me.  If you have a different opinion, that's okay too.

 I think that Dan was somewhat disappointed in the whole experience.  I'm not sure what he expected.   I don't know if what he remembered from the last time we went influenced what he thought about this experience, but I don't think this was anywhere close to what it was.  We were not able to talk to anyone about the time period at all.  Going into the vendor tents was interesting at first, but after the first 5 or so they started to be all the same - the same merchandise over and over again.  We talked about the experience after we got back to the truck and we thought that maybe it had gotten too large.  I think sometimes when things get too big they lose their original purpose.

Of course, part of the problem could have been, Dan tried to do too much too fast.  This was the first time he has been out since his last heart cath and he probably walked about 2 miles without really stopping to rest.  To say he was completly wiped out by the time we got back to the truck would be a major understatement.  However, there was three good things that occured from this little excursion:

1.  Dan was able to go do something that he has been wanting to do for over a year.

2.  He got out and got some much needed exercise (whether he realized it until after the fact or not).

3.  Dan would have made one HECK of a good looking MOUNTAIN MAN!  If you don't believe me - just look below

Dan, Dan the Mountain Man!
  So, what do you think?  Can't you just see him, dressed in buckskins, riding over the Rocky Mountains on his  paint horse with his long rifle, leading his pack horse which is loaded down with furs after spending the long winter trapping?  Yeah, I can too!  (We just need to do something with the glasses!)

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