Meetin’ a good time at the Carson City Rendezvous
CARSON CITY – The whine of the fiddle broke the silence as Randy Pollard pulled the bow across the strings. With a flourish of his hand serving to punctuate the national anthem, Mills Park erupted with the sound of gunfire.
It served as a reminder that the Carson City Rendezvous was in full swing.
Saturday marked the second of three days that transforms Mills Park from 2006 to the 1800s. Walking around, visitors saw all manner of personalities and life from the era. Everything from the mountain man working on an obsidian knife to the stagecoach getting people where they need to go – quickly.
In the mountain man encampment, a man calling himself Plenty Fingers, from north of Reno, was demonstrating the art of hatchet throwing.
“It’s all about the distance you are from the stump and the amount of revolutions you want it to make,” Fingers said. “I’ve been doing this for 26 seasons, and all of these things are part of portraying the lives of mountain men. Tomahawk, knife throwing and muzzleloading are just some of the events we do.”
Mark Pavelek, playing Dr. Gray Rivers, said the Rendezvous has always been a don’t-miss event for him. The event got him hooked on the history of the Civil War. He now spends a good portion of time in Virginia City playing a character from the era.
“The Civil War re-enactments. That’s a real highlight of the event. That’s something nobody should miss,” Pavelek said.
Pavelek was in search of several replacement pieces for his uniform Saturday and hoped someone from the Nevada Civil War Volunteers could provide him some assistance.
The group spent the day manning the cannons and providing history lessons in their camp on the east end of the park.
“We do living history as an educational tool to show people what it was like during that time,” said Tom Lynch.
The most common question Lynch gets?
“They ask if you are hot because the uniforms are made of wool and, yes, you are. But you wear this uniform year-round and in the winter you are glad it’s made of wool,” Lynch said. “It was a hard life, but that’s the nature of war.”
Between blasts of the cannon, the sounds of fiddle music wafted from the Pony Express Pavilion, where more than 40 musicians took part in the second annual Old Time Fiddle Contest.
The event was organized by Pollard, a former World Champion from Minden. Participants ranged in age from age 6 to age 76 and competed for more than $5,000 in prize money.
“The fiddle came over with the wagon train so it is fitting to have the contest at the Rendezvous. We want to perpetuate old-time fiddle music. Fiddle players learn by listening to other players, so that’s the only way it stays around,” Pollard said.
Laura Smith, 20, drove from Northern California to take part in the fiddle contest.
“I’ve played all kind of instruments since I was very small and the fiddle just seemed like an interesting one,” Smith said. “This is quite a decent turnout for a contest that’s only in its second year.”
The event drew six of the last 10 national champions, including players from Idaho, Washington, California and Oregon.
The Rendezvous also offered 112 vendors peddling wares including hot tubs, T-shirts and dream catchers along with a whole wagon load of food and drink.
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