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Cannon River Rendezvous set for this weekend

RANDOLPH, Minn. --The Cannon River Rendezvous will take place over Memorial Day weekend at the Maltby Nature Preserve near Cannon Falls. Sponsored by the Twin City Muzzle Loading Club, the rendezvous takes visitors back in time to a tradition of the 1850s.

It was a time when tents crowded along the shoreline of "La Riviere aux Canots." Bearded men wearing furs and rugged britches chopped and carried firewood. The long skirts of women rustled, and children played cat and mouse.

The blacksmith's sledge could be heard ringing against red-glowing metal on his anvil. A blast from the musket of a hunter in the woods might startle a bird in the bushes. With laughter, stories were told in a heavy French drawl.

At the rendezvous, the everyday life of French fur trappers, traders and early settlers is revealed through storytelling, crafts, demonstrations and characters in period attire. In addition to blacksmiths and storytellers, there will be potters, flint and steel demonstrations, trapper camp, cooking, muzzle loaders, a hawk throw, archery, concessions and souvenirs.

The Maltby Nature Preserve is located on 90 acres of woodland and prairie along the Cannon River, which was known to the French as La Riviere aux Canots. That name alluded to the canoes that were often hidden along the banks while French trappers or Native Americans were hunting buffalo in the adjacent prairies.

The rendezvous will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Parking fee is $10. For directions and information, go online to or call (507) 664-0770.