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A primitive rendezvous is a gathering of people who are interested in recreating the lifestyles and traditions practiced by early Americans involved in the fur trade and exploration of our country's vast wilderness areas. Personalities portrayed range from participants in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, Early American Longhunters and Western Fur trade characters. The personas are not necessarily based on an actual historical figure, often they are based on the nameless, everyday characters of the time period that represent a set of frontier skills, lifestyles and character that is uniquely American in nature.

Modern “primitive rendezvous” take the form of large encampments, where history buffs gather and practice living as trappers, traders, boatmen, longhunters, natives, voyagers and soldiers in pre-1840's style. Why 1840? Well that is kind of the last year of the golden days of the Rocky Mountain fur trade, the last year when beaver peltry were harvested in the wild and sold at a wilderness “rendezvous” in the American west. Camping in white canvas tents, cooking over an open fire, wearing historically accurate clothes and accoutrements, participating in period contests of skill and having a great time doing it are the hallmarks of a modern primitive rendezvous.

A Few Rules To Keep In Mind

Primitive rendezvous are designed for people who are serious about “living history”, costumes, camp wares and equipment are required to be pre-1840 at all High Plains Regional Rendezvous. We realize that many people who attend local rendezvous do not always participate at this level. However, the High Plains Regional Rendezvous is intended for those who are committed to the recreation of this historical period. If you plan to attend make certain that you are committed to portraying this era 100%. Of course where health and safety are concerned exceptions can be made, but every attempt should be made to minimize the use of modern materials and technologies. For example:

Most of you who attend for the entire week will want and need to have perishable food items stored in coolers. We understand that this is a necessary requirement to protect the safety of you and your family. All that we ask is that you keep the cooler covered and or stored inside your tent and out of plain view. Throw a tarp over it, make wooden or canvas cover if you plan to store it outside.

The following are general rules that will pertain to all High Plains Regional Rendezvous; please consult each event's flyer for more specific rules:

  • The Booshway (event leader or organizer) has the final word on all matters concerning his or her rendezvous. If you have a question about any particular rule, refer it to the current Booshway.

  • All shelters must be constructed of pre-1840 type materials, canvas, oil cloth or other natural fibers, such as smoked hides or wool blankets. If your tent has a screen window please keep the flap lowered or closed to cover it.

  • All modern or post-1840 equipment must be kept covered and out of site. A simple canvas cover will hide many non-period items. Just because an item is made of wood or canvas does not make it correct. A good example would be the wood and canvas "reclining chairs" and "director style chairs". While seen at rendezvous these are not appropriate.

  • All cups, cookware, dishes etc should be tin, wood, horn, pewter or iron, when used outside of your tent. Enamelware is not strictly historically correct but has come to be accepted for use by the uninitiated. While the High Plains does allow enamelware some rendezvous do not.

  • Lighting should be restricted to candle or oil lamps. Use flashlights only in emergency situations. (Finding your last bottle of beverage at midnight is not an emergency!)

  • Pets are allowed in camp at the discretion of the Booshway. Always keep them quiet, on a leash or tied up and always clean up after them. It is always a good idea to make sure your pets are vaccinated before bringing them to a rendezvous.

  • Wood is almost always available at the rendezvous site and water is usually available, but don't count on it.

  • Fires usually must be kept in pits and a period correct and practical fire bucket must be at each camp. Pits should be refilled and the sod replaced before you leave the rendezvous. Fires are allowed in accordance with state law and are subject to burn bans etc. depending on conditions.

  • Trade goods are allowed at the discretion of the Booshway, trade captain, or trade committee, again if it is not pre-1840; don't put it out for sale/trade. Many new and veteran buckskinners rely on traders for their wares so please be conscious that they put a lot of faith in that what you sell at the rendezvous is usable at the rendezvous. NOTE: Click button below to take you to the Trade Rules page.​

  • Most states have rules regarding the sale of furs, feathers and other parts of wild animals often used in pre-1840 accoutrements and clothing. It is your duty as a trader to investigate these laws and comply with them if you are planning to offer these items for sale and trade.

  • Most states have rules regarding transport of livestock across state lines, horses are generally required to have proof of a negative Coggins test before being permitted into the rendezvous site.

A good rule of thumb, for reenactors planning to attend their first primitive rendezvous, that I'll borrow from Meadow Muffin writing for the Southwestern Regional Rendezvous “if someone else can see it, hear it, or smell it, and it is modern (Post 1840), it has to go.”

What is a Rendezvous?: About
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