Mountain men, long hunters, trappers and other historical figures gathered at the American Legion in Black Walnut on Saturday and Sunday to trade, talk, and shoot.
All were part of the annual Endless Mountains Rendezvous Muzzleloader Shoot and Artisan Show.
Men appeared in buckskins, sporting tri-corner hats, and other types of headgear from a bygone era. Women wore dresses ranging from pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial period.
“Don’t call it costumes,” said Gerry Washack of LeRaysville. “Clowns wear costumes.”
The proper term for their style of dress is regalia, Washack explained.
He shows a black powder pistol which was started by a gunsmith named Gilbert Scales in 1971. But he died before it was completed, and was ultimately finished 20 years later by his son Jerry Scales, Washack explained.
Washack points out the names of both Gilbert and Jerry Scales engraved into the pistol’s metal pieces. It shot well too, allowing Washack to win the pistol competition around noon on Saturday.
“It sort of did what I wanted it to,” he said.
Washack is one of many people bitten by the muzzleloader ‘bug’ in which people enjoy recreating reliving the past.
“I’ve been doing this for 12 years,” he said. “I used to be a Wall Street broker. Then one day I decided I had enough and moved out here. I never looked back.”
President of Endless Mountains Primitive Outdoorsmen, Alan Superko - which sponsors the event -said that attendance had been good as of 1 p.m. on Saturday, despite the rain which was coming and going at the event.
“This is our rendezvous, the big event,” Superko explained. “Historically, people such as mountain men and long hunters would gather once a year to trade and get supplies. For some, it was the only contact they had with other human beings for a year.”
Many people set up tents at the encampment to spend both days at the event. Cooking fires are used to heat cast iron utensils, with even an old-fashioned black coffee pot seen bubbling on a grate.
This year features a couple of new events, including the pistol shoot. Another new attraction is the archery shoot, which according to Superko has drawn a lot of enthusiastic participants.
However, one will not find the wheels, pulleys, counterweights and sites of compound bows associated with regular archery competitions. Instead, participants shoot with the long-bow or re-curved bow from simpler times, using wooden arrows for ammunition.
“This is the first year we’ve had it as a competition,” Superko explained. “Previously, we had it as a demonstration. We’ve got a lot of people competing.”
Another popular attraction is a range for young or inexperienced people to give them a taste of what it is like to shoot a black powder weapon.
“There’s no charge,” Superko explained. “We just want to give people a chance to see what it is like.”
Things have been going well for the EMPO this past year, Superko said. The organization now boasts over 100 members, including some from Maine and Ohio.
“We started a $1,000 scholarship fund this past year,” he explained.
Contestants each submit a historical essay, Superko explain. The winning essay is awarded the scholarship, which is paid directly to the college or university of the winner.
At one tent, Morgan Clinton, the curator of the Wyalusing Valley Museum, is busy tape weaving.
“It’s really band weaving, that was used to produce apron strings, hat bands, and ties,” she explained. “It’s the 18th Century equivalent of what cotton twill tape is now.”