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 2014 summer season.
The annual "Rendezvous on the River" will be May 7-10 on Blennerhassett Island, the first special event scheduled for this year, following the season opening, which fell 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 7-10 on Blennerhassett Island.
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 rates are: museum admission at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History, $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3-12; boat ride, $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-12; mansion tour, $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3-12; and wagon ride, $5 each for all ages.
Running through early June, the island is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Hours at the museum and the island will change at various times through the summer season.
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.
This is the 26th 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.
In other special events during the month of May, Blennerhassett Island will be offering a Mother's Day special May 11. Mothers will receive a free hand-dipped ice cream sundae from the island's concession stand and get a free tour of the Blennerhassett Mansion.
A new program starting this year will be the Sunrise Breakfast Cruise May 17, which will feature an early morning cruise on board the Island Belle sternwheeler. The program will include breakfast and a bird walk on the island. Advance reservations are required. For more information and ticket prices, contact the park office at 304-420-4800.