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Photograph by Jensen Walker

This History-Themed Party Attracts More Than One Thousand People

And they all wear period dress, just like the trappers and traders of the 1800s.

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In the early 1800s, before miners pickaxed their ways to fortune in the Rockies, trappers came in search of a different treasure: beaver pelts, which were used to make fashionable hats. The traders followed, eager to exchange goods for the luxurious furs, and the groups convened annual meetings in the mountains starting in 1825. By 1840, the trappers had fleeced the landscape of its fuzzy riches (and the wealthy had turned to silk for their chapeaus), so the gatherings ceased. More than a century later, re-enactment enthusiasts have revived the custom in five Western states, including Colorado. One of the largest events will take place from July 14 to 21, when an estimated 1,500 people will travel to the Historic Soward Ranch near Creede for the Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous. The shindig is as authentic as possible; every visible item is required to adhere to pre-1840s style. (Exceptions are made for essentials such as ice.) That means, for instance, polyester dresses are off-limits, even if they look like the full-skirted frocks women would have donned at the time. For old-fashioned fun, the Rendezvous puts on live musical performances using era-appropriate instruments such as banjos, seminars about everything from beadwork to telling tall tales, and competitions in mountain-man skills like tomahawk throwing. If you want a taste of frontier life but are low on buckskin shirts, check out the trade fair portion from July 14 to 15, when it’s open to the T-shirt-wearing public.

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