Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Revolutionary Vendors Settle in for Fest ; Vincennes Salutes Its History This Weekend

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Revolutionary Vendors Settle in for Fest ; Vincennes Salutes Its History This Weekend

Article excerpt

VINCENNES, Ind. - Gary Hamilton slings his long gray hair over his shoulder and tosses another set of thick brown ropes onto the ground. His two dogs, Lady Bird and Lacey, a German Shepherd and black-and-white mixed-breed, respectively, look up lazily from where they are dozing, in the shade cast by the large white tent. "It's so much work to get set up," Hamilton said as he went back for another bundle of ropes. "It helps to get here early and get started.

"We've been coming to the rendezvous for 35 years," he said. "And we always like to come a little early. We love all the people, meeting so many different kinds of people. That's what it's all about for us."

Hamilton, a "woodwork, weaving and candle-making" vendor from Gillespie, Illinois, is one of many who had already moved into the French Commons off Willow Street by Thursday, all of them preparing for the annual Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous.

While the majority of those involved with the event arrive on Friday to set up camp for the weekend, others like to get there early, all in an effort to really soak in all the Revolutionary War re-enactment has to offer.

The normally quiet, grassy knoll becomes a hustle and bustle of full-size trucks pulling fully loaded trailers and people, some already in period dress, unloading boxes and plastic totes full of their Revolutionary wares.

"It takes us awhile to set up," said Larry Keller, a loyal vendor from Montezuma. "We don't want to rush, and we're retired, so we can do that. Time doesn't mean anything to us, really."

The Kellers enjoyed the late morning breeze Thursday as they and about a dozen others unloaded their goods: clothing, leather goods, toys, pottery, all faithful to the late 1700s.

But it's the evenings, when campers often collect around a crackling campfire and engage in an impromptu musical jam session, that draw many of the early rendezvous visitors.

"Wherever you see a campfire you gather and see who can tell the biggest lie," joked Keller. "It's a great time to get away from home, the TV, the radio - the 21st century in general. It's a good time to rest and see people we only get to see once a year."

Nearby was Bob Baize, aka "Trader Bob," who is new to the early rendezvous scene.

"This is my first year," he said as he unloaded armfuls of various animal furs, everything from skunk-skin hats to entire beaver hides. …

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