Long Rifles seek plan B for 2020 Rendezvous

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Group working in advance so high river won’t mean cancelation entirely

By Correne Martin

Having no Rendezvous in Prairie du Chien this past June resulted in more lasting effects than the general public may have realized. But the Big River Long Rifles are working to secure a back-up site in advance of next year’s Prairie Villa Rendezvous so that, even if the river is high again in 2020, they can swiftly move the event, rather than cancel it altogether. 

“We’ve heard enough from the local people about what was lost. We don’t want to have to cancel again,” explained BRLR club member Julie Warrington. “We want to reach out and get the community’s support. In order to have a Rendezvous next year, we need to have a really solid plan B.”

Due to a prolonged flood that kept St. Feriole Island under water from March and beyond the June 13-16 event, organizers of the pre-1840s frontier life reenactment were forced to seek other last-minute sites. None of them played out because of size, liability, insurance costs and distance from Prairie du Chien, so the Rendezvous was simply unable to go on. 

“We talked to people all over the place. We were scrambling,” Warrington recalled. “I went down and talked to the mayor and he was willing to drive me around on his motorcycle to tour places.”

“Just about everything Blair (Dillman) was willing to provide us is in the flood plain too,” noted Bud Tieman, a fellow club member. 

They explained that event grounds and farmers’ fields were offered in communities outside of Prairie du Chien. However, the club does not want to take the Rendezvous out of the city, as they wish to keep the business and the history local and not have vendors and attendees traveling a half-hour from their lodging to the event.

“If we could find a farmer who has cut the first crop of hay by Rendezvous time, or someone with land on the ridge, and they want to work with us, that would be wonderful,” Warrington stated.

She continued, “We’re asking for community support, information, somebody who knows something we don’t. Contact us with ideas.”

“There have been some rumors that it’s not gonna happen again in 2020. But we’re trying to form a back-up plan so, no matter what, we can,” commented Martha Tieman, club member.

“When the Rendezvous is here, it impacts grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, and like anything else that brings business to the community, people will come back on other weekends after the Rendezvous is done to visit other places in town,” Warrington advocated. “The vendors make friends and connections here, and sell all year long.”

“Our vendors really lost business last year. They come from all over,” Martha added, naming Texas, Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Florida. “It’s not unusual to have people from at least 30 states here, Sunday through Sunday.”

Warrington said, for this reason, the BRLR hope to have a solid back-up plan in place by Feb. 1. So, when they start sending mailers out to vendors in March, and placing advertisements all over the region, plans for June can be more reliable. 

“I couldn’t even begin to put a number on the amount of vendors we have there’s so many,” she added, “and that doesn’t even begin to touch the number of people who come to the Rendezvous just to see it.”

To share 20-30-acre possibilities within or very close to Prairie du Chien with the Big River Long Rifles, please contact them at P.O. Box 184, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, send a message on Prairie Villa Rendezvous Facebook page, or contact a BRLR member. Or call Julie at (608) 988-6345 or Martha at (563) 880-6163. 

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