2017 NYSMLA Primitive Rendezvous
By Steve Zahurak
In 1777, the British tried to split the American colonies by employing a three-pronged attack in New York; Howe was to sail up the Hudson River, Burgoyne was to march south from Canada through Saratoga, and St. Leger was to move east along the Mohawk Valley. Howe never challenged the chain across the Hudson River and cannons on the heights of West Point, Burgoyne was defeated at Saratoga, and St. Leger was forced to retreat from Oriskany and return to Canada. The Tryon County Militia consisted of farmers, merchants and backwoodsmen using their personal firearms. Is it any wonder why they insisted on a Second Amendment to the Constitution that stated “the right to keep and bear arms?”
In 1975, Bill Lloyd presented an idea to recreate the Tryon County Militia to reenact the three day march of General Herkimer and his men to meet the British in Oriskany on the exact days of the bicentennial celebration. The concept was supported wholeheartedly by the Herkimer County Conservation Alliance. Officers and members of many muzzleloading clubs were agreeable to form the nucleus of the Militia. The support of Larry Manley, Ken Oaksford and Fred Markwardt was instrumental in planning and organizing four musters and a two-day camp out and muster to plan and publicize the March and Battle in August, 1977.
When August 4 finally arrived, the Militia with recruits from New York and Pennsylvania began its three day march on a sweltering, hot and humid day on the shoulder of hot blacktop pavement. “Only one quarter mile to go,” became the motivational slogan of the march. After two nights of camping along the route and being cheered, fed and given cold beer and soda by groups from supportive community and historical organizations and individuals along the way, 125 militia arrived to reenact the battle against the King’s Royal Yorkers of Ontario, Canada with 20,000 people observing the spectacle in person along with the thousands who watched some of it on television.
From the 1975 vision of Bill Lloyd and the subsequent two and one-half years of planning, meeting with formal and informal get togethers, people realized the need for a statewide organization to represent the interests of individuals and groups who enjoyed the sport of muzzleloading and related activities. The muzzleloaders were in agreement that Bill Lloyd should organize the New York State Muzzleloaders Association, which was formally announced on September 10, 1977. More detailed information about the March and formation of NYSMLA can be found in One Quarter Mile to Go, by Paul Keesler, 1978.
“Everybody’s going out and having fun,
I’m just a fool for staying home and having none.
A bad mistake I’m making by just hanging round,
I know I should have some fun and paint the town.”
- Oh Lonesome Me, Don Gibson, December, 1957
The original rendezvous was a larger meeting that was the highlight of the year for fur trappers and traders that included the transfer of goods along with other types of trading transactions, meetings and revelry. There was singing, dancing, eating, drinking, fighting, and contests of skills such as axe throwing, racing, shooting and wrestling.
At the Moose River Primitive Rendezvous and Hunt, they will be camping and reliving the era of 1760-1840. Male and female campers will be in primitive clothing and lodging at the Rendezvous at all times. The site will look like a movie set of an 18th century rendezvous. There will be 8-20 lodges (tents, lean-tos or wall tents). As the Rendezvous coincides with the New York muzzleloading season for deer, there may be some white-tailed deer in camp. Other participants may take advantage of the autumn season and do some grouse hunting with their smokepoles. During the week, there will be shooting demonstrations, various instructional sessions, axe & knife throwing, flint knapping and leatherworking.
A unique feature of the 26th Rendezvous is Visitor’s Day on October 15 from 10 AM-4 PM. This is an opportunity to visit the site, meet muzzleloading enthusiasts, observe cooking items such as roasts or stew pots, enter open lodges and take advantage of amazing photo opportunities. Visitor’s Day is a great way to get a warm and informative introduction to the sport of muzzleloading. The Rendezvous is a family event which makes it an enjoyable and leisurely way for children to interact with the participants and learn about a dynamic era of America’s past.
New York State Muzzleloaders Association has about forty affiliated clubs from all regions of New York State. More information about NYSMLA can be found on their website at http://www.newyorkstatemuzzleloadersassn.com/.
Oh, yes, while at the Rendezvous, don’t forget to ask about “Group Tight’ner,” and I am not referring to the quarterly 16 page newsletter.
If you join the organization or go to Visitor’s Day, I am very confident you will be reciting these words from Merle Haggard’s 1986 song, “I had a beautiful time. “
- October, 2017
This article was going to appear in the Fall Edition of the Adirodack Outdoors publication but the paper folded and left this article with no place to go. Steve allowed to us to print this for those that wanted to see what they missed. He hopes we enjoy it.