Volume 2, Number 12 - June 20, 2002
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Historical Society changes focus of rendezvous
The Sublette County Historical Society Board of Trustees has decided to "extend and expand" the Green River Rendezvous for 2003.
According to Laurie Hartwig, Museum of the Mountain Man executive director, after 66 years, the "traditional" hour-long pageant will become a thing of the past, to be replaced with four days of interactive programs and lectures, all to be held at the museum grounds.
Anyone interested had "better come this summer because this is the last traditional pageant," Hartwig said. "The board is excited ... We think the possibilities of what we can do are endless" about what she terms the "best decision for the museum and society to have all the activities on themuseum grounds ... We're extending it to a four-day venue," which will include renowned historians in fur trade such as Robert Utley, Fred Gowans and Pierce Olson, and a living history symposium by Michael Terry.
Hartwig said the change was "a difficult decision ... We have been discussing this for five or six years ... Tradition is hard to change, but we felt it was time to look outside the box and make it better."
Moving the entire venue to the museum grounds will help with liability, which is one of the main issues, according to Hartwig.
"Part of it is that we used to charge for the pageant, then we got sponsored by McMurry Foundation, but we're finding the majority of that money is going to liability insurance, so what used to be a fund-raiser isn't," Hartwig said. So the board took what she called a "proactive approach to the liability issues ... an accident waiting to happen." Hartwig cited pony dancers, wagons and horses, and audience coverage as part of the liability problem.
Lack of pageant participation and volunteerism were also on the list of reasons for the pageant ceasing, as was leasing the rendezvous grounds from the Sublette County Sporting Association (SCSA).
The historical society decided not to renew their five-year lease with SCSA after this year; the lease is up in July. Parts in the pageant used to be handed down from generation to generation and that isn't happening anymore, Hartwig said.
The historical society hopes the community activities, such as Traders' Row, the parade, the buffalo feast and Quick Draw, will continue.
"We're just changing the place and the venue ... we're replacing the type of commemoration," she said.
They are planning a plethora of other activities for the four-day fest, everything from a mini pageant, Dutch-oven cooking, western swing workshops, fiddlers ... "The possibilities are endless - the thing to stress is the knowledge to be brought about," Hartwig said. "We also plan to bring back some of the American Mountain Man Association members so people can do hands-on mountain men stuff."
The museum board and staff will still look forward to "Meeting you on the Green."
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