Historic part of the Rendezvous canceled, flea market still on

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By Correne Martin

 

The Prairie Villa Rendezvous is officially canceled for 2020, though plans for the associated flea market remain set for Sept. 18-20 on St. Feriole Island.  

Despite efforts to reschedule the Rendezvous from Father’s Day weekend in June to the third week of September, the Big River Long Rifles organization made the announcement last week to steer clear of any coronavirus-related health risks and simply forego this year’s pre-1840s frontier life encampment altogether. 

“With the rules and regulations for COVID-19, we are unable to get together this year. We are so looking forward to seeing everyone next year, 2021!” a Facebook statement said. 

This marks the second consecutive year of no Rendezvous in Prairie du Chien. In 2019, neither the encampment nor the flea market happened due to sustained flood waters on the island. 

Heading into 2020, organizers worked to secure an alternate site that could accommodate the Rendezvous if it needed to be relocated, due to high water yet again. However, it was the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic instead that dropped the ax on one of the community’s largest public occasions. 

Though the buckskinners will not be on site, the Prairie du Chien Firefighters Association is moving forward with the Rendezvous Flea Market, expecting usual attendance numbers to be cut in at least half or more. 

Vendors and shoppers typically migrate from a 60-90 mile radius to Prairie du Chien for the flea market, according to the firefighters association, which is the fundraising arm of the Prairie du Chien Fire Department.

The association has a COVID-19 safety plan, approved by the city council, requiring and requesting sanitary and distancing precautions are taken by all vendors at the flea market. 

The group also plans a beverage stand to be operated under proper safety  guidelines.

 

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PdC council gives the OK to flea market

By Correne Martin

 

The Sept. 18-20 Rendezvous Flea Market was given the go-ahead by a unanimous Prairie du Chien Common Council vote Tuesday night. 

A couple stipulations  were asked of the Prairie du Chien Firefighters Association however. The group needs to determine a way to track attendees, ensuring there are less than 250 people on the grounds at one time—per public health COVID-19 guidelines for outdoor gatherings—and are not allowed to have a band or entertainment area for gathering. According to City Attorney Lara Czajkowski Higgins, the interpretation of the guidelines is that the 250 does not include the “employees” at the flea market, such as the vendors and fire association members working it. 

Alderman Todd Myers explained to the firefighters association members in attendance for Tuesday’s council meeting that the council understands the extra expectations in order to hold the event seem difficult. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, the council is trying to keep things fair and consistent with other organizations’ requests to host events on the island this summer and fall. 

Association representative Steve Rickleff said they anticipate three to four blocks of flea market vendors, a significant decrease in sellers from a typical past year. 

Rickleff said the vendors will be responsible for urging shoppers to adhere to social distancing and sanitary guidelines. The fire association will be around to monitor this. 

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