PARKERSBURG - A visit to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park is like stepping back to another century and another dimension will be added with the gathering of mountain men and other pioneers for the first event of the island's 2013 summer season.
The annual "Rendezvous on the River" will be May 8-11 on Blennerhassett Island, the first special event schedule for this year, following the season opening on May 1.
The rendezvous, put on by the West Virginia Muzzleloaders Association and Blennerhassett Island, recreates the frontier life of the 18th and 19th centuries through authentic camps, demonstrations and period costumes.
Bernard Potter Jr., of Parkersburg, examines a tomahawk during the Rendezvous on the River pioneer encampment on Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. This year’s pioneer program will be May 8-11 on Blennerhassett Island.
Parkersburg resident Bernard Potter has been involved in pioneer re-enacting since the 1970s. He participates each year in the Rendezvous on the River program on Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park.
There is no charge for visits to the Rendezvous camp and demonstrations. Blennerhassett Island can only be reached by sternwheeler from Point Park in downtown Parkersburg. Tickets are available at the Blennerhassett Museum at Second and Juliana streets in downtown Parkersburg.
The boat ride is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 3-12. Admission to the Blennerhassett Mansion is $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3-12. Wagon rides are $5 for all ages.
The island is open from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday.
During the Rendezvous, there are individuals and families on the island in period camps doing fire building with flint and steel, outdoor cooking, playing kids games and making crafts. There will also be gun builders and tomahawk- and knife-throwing demonstrations, said organizers.
Parkersburg residents Bernie and Charlotte Potter have been participating in the Blennerhassett Island event for about 10 years. Bernie has been a pioneer re-enactor since the mid-1970s, traveling to many different states, with Charlotte joining him about 17 years ago.
"You can go as a mountain man, a pioneer or an Indian. (Bernie) usually goes as mountain man and I usually go as a pioneer," Charlotte Potter said, adding that for a period of years they adopted Native American personas and had a tepee they would put up during rendezvous events.
"It's a good family thing," she said of historical encampment programs like Rendezvous on the River.
This is the 25th year the Rendezvous on the River has been held on Blennerhassett Island. There are usually about 50 adults and children staying in canvas lodges and lean-tos they have set up on the island.
The clothing and many of the furnishings used in the camp are handmade. Other items, such as cookware and other equipment, are either authentic or reproductions made to function as pieces did in that time period.
Many of the re-enactors, who come primarily from Ohio and West Virginia, are history buffs interested in the period. The re-enactors cover the period before 1840 and go back to the Revolutionary War period. Rendezvous participants can be anything pre-1840s.
For more information contact the park office at 304-420-4800.