From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 22 - August 22, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

SCHS plans town meeting for Rendezvous discussion

by Rhonda Swain

A meeting of the Sublette County Historical Society (SCHS) board last Wednesday night had a couple of surprising outcomes. After a very short formal meeting, which SCHS President Chopper Grassell called "probably the shortest in history," some members of the audience voiced their disappointment at the board canceling the historic Rendezvous pageant.

Grassell and Museum of the Mountain Man Director Laurie Hartwig said that the board chose to not hold the pageant any longer because of liability issues, lack of participation and a decision to not renew the lease with the Sublette County Sporting Association (SCSA) for the grounds. The board feels the liability issue puts the museum and all its artifacts in jeopardy.

In an interview Thursday, Museum Business Manager Millie Pape summed it up when she said: "We can't afford the liability ... We can't put this museum on the block."

Grassell said: "I don't think anybody here, in their heart of hearts, wants to get rid of the pageant ... There are other issues that are far more concerning from a liability standpoint."

Rendezvous committee member Des Brunett has had many people talk to her about the cancellation, and said, "We want a full-fledged rendezvous pageant." She had 41 volunteers for the cast, 11 of whom were new to the pageant, she said.

After Hartwig said that "People are spread so thin," in regard to the lack of participation in the pageant, Brunett said she feels that many people will come forward, that "people don't know you need help with setting up teepees ... don't know you need help putting on make-up ... or with getting money for advertising ... You need to ask." She said the members of the rendezvous committee and cast members would be willing to do more, too.

Pinedale resident Marilyn Huffman also spoke in favor of the pageant, saying: "Rendezvous, to me, is the rendezvous pageant. The little downtown things ... the little booths and the chintzy stuff that you buy, that's nothing. It's the pageant and the story that's the Rendezvous.

"I think you misjudged us all," she said. "I don't know about the legal issues and I don't know about liability, but I think there's a way around it."

She and Brunett both spoke out in favor of young people in the community participating in the pageant, some for four generations.

Following all the pro-pageant talk, and learning that nobody at the meeting really favored not holding the pageant, the board subsequently decided to hold a public meeting to discuss with community members the possibility of another entity taking over the pageant. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for sometime in September, but no definite date has been set.

The Rendezvous has been held on ground that was deeded to SCSA by C.C. and Angeline Feltner in 1954. The historical society originally held a 25-year lease, which was reduced to 10 years and then to five, and for several years SCHS has been holding the pageant without a lease.

At its June meeting, the board directed Hartwig to donate the SCHS bleachers, with the exception of an aluminum one which is to be moved to the amphitheater at the museum. Because of SCHS's non-profit status, the bleachers had to be given to another non-profit organization, and were subsequently given to the Sublette County Fair Board, under Sublette County, and moved to the Sublette County Fairgrounds. The bleachers were used by the sporting association for its events.

Lance Koppenhafer and Mike Vickrey, representing SCSA, questioned why the bleachers were not offered to the sporting association and why they were not given any prior notice of the bleachers' removal. With two events scheduled over the next two weekends, Koppenhafer said, "We have no bleachers to seat people."

As of July 17, the bleachers belong to the fair board, and Grassell said that all ties with the sporting association were severed as well.

Vickrey informed the board that "Our directive is that ... we need to end the relationship with the historical society board ... and the stuff there needs to be moved," including the small buildings and the crow's nest used to announce the pageant. SCHS has until Jan. 1, 2003, to remove all historical society property from the grounds.

Koppenhafer said that the one building that's in good condition, which houses the society's wagons, can remain on the grounds if the society will sign rental and hold harmless agreements.

The sporting association reps told the board that, if at some time in the future, the Rendezvous pageant is to be reinstated, negotiations can probably be made to hold it at the rodeo grounds.

In the event that some other entity takes over the pageant, Hartwig said SCHS would gift the pageant props to that entity, which will negotiate a new lease with the sporting association.

As to the sporting association not having seating for its upcoming events, the society board advised Koppenhafer to ask the Sublette County Commissioners about the possibility of the bleachers being returned to the Pinedale Rodeo Grounds.

When he met with Sublette County Commissioners Friday, Koppenhafer told the

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