Re-enactors revive past era at Fort Union Rendezvous

Submitted Photo Re-enactors Jon Rockstad, left, blows on dried grass to get the fire started for the evening meal as his brother, Tim Rockstad, and Kristyl Reese look on, shown in this photo by Roger Riveland. Reese was sewing on a leather pouch to pass the time. The Rockstad brothers said they had been attending Fort Union Rendezvous for at least 15 years and used to come with their dad when they were kids. All are from Williston.

WILLISTON — The 39th Annual Fort Union Rendezvous was held over the weekend on the North Dakota/ Montana border 24 miles southwest of Williston.

The rendezvous held in June is the largest event held each year at Fort Union. The celebration is in memory of the fur trade heritage that took place at the fort, which at that time was located next to the Missouri River. The present-day Missouri River has cut a new channel a ways south of the fort site. The present rebuilt fort is at the exact location as the former.

The entire event was free to the public, except any items those attending purchased to take home with them.

Each day scores of re-enactors were on site to live and carry on as people of the past era would have. Dealers on hand were marketing period clothing, antique black powder firearms, supplies, housewares, wax candles, homemade toys, leather, tanned hides, tableware, animal traps, tools and trinkets.

A blacksmith was on hand inside the palisade walls of the fort, making items from metal, while others were stretching hides, tanning hides and cooking. Mike Bickler of Williston was making a coffee pot and steins out of tin.

Submitted Photo Tim Brosseau of Bottineau, shown in this photo by Roger Riveland, watches and waits to welcome people to his store on the grounds.

In the evening there was music, and the re-enactors, for the most part, stayed and camped on site over the weekend. One family of re-enactors made the trek from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, 100 miles to the north. They had last been at the rendezvous in 2019 and were glad to finally get back this year.


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