The Sublette County Journal
Volume 3, Number 24 - 7/15/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Cris Paravicini
I was called to duty this past weekend to snap some pictures of the ever-popular Rendezvous activities. I have to confess, though, I normally stay home each second weekend of July, not finding the guts or energy to be swept along with the river of excited people and activities. But, let me share with you exactly what I would have missed had I opted to just hole up at the ol' farm...
The sun was toasty, the wind at rest, and the sky a perfect shade of blue when I pulled into Pinedale. But the balmy, peaceful weather soon betrayed the excitement that electrified the streets. The old cowtown, indeed, was dressed in her play clothes _ ready to turn on the fun and anxious to share all her toys.
At the hilltop Museum of the Mountain Man, Michael Terry's Plains Indian legend and lore held captive an audience of history lovers. My camera lens easily danced from Mr. Terry's spellbinding presentation , to craftsmen/women sharing basket weaving skills, to nearby children, who were either intently diggin' up bones in a recreated archeological site, putting on war paint, or skipping through the brush with rawhide souvenirs. Parents and grandparents smiled, happily, contently.
Nearby, the museum hummed with the "awes" of curiosity seekers while a crew of local fellas iced the beer and sharpened their knives to prepare an evening feast of buffalo barbecue.
Down at the library, I was moved during a talk given by Renee Flood about her impassioned quest for a missing Indian girl of long ago and whose saga is revealed in her latest book, Lost Bird of Wounded Knee. A young, wheelchair-bound woman had traveled over 300 miles that day to at-long-last meet Ms. Flood and have her book autographed. I walked away with a renewed sense of how passion and destiny tightly hold hands.
Years ago it started at high noon _ Sublette County's famous Rendezvous Pageant _ but now it kicks off at 1 p.m. I hadn't been to the pageant for many years, and now, I'm wondering why. My entire family used to have fun as members of the cast, but through time and change, we drifted away from its yearly calling. Over the years, I've seen the presentation from all angles _ the cast, the audience, behind the stockade, and now through the camera's eye _ but never from the organizer/workhorse end, where only a pocketful of unsung heroes dwell.
Des Brunette, a 37-year veteran of the cast was patiently waiting for the curtains to go up, standing with her buddy _ a sleepy, 35-year old pony that shouldered a fur and kid-laden travois. Little Stub, too, Des said, was a very, long-time performer.
I noticed that many cast members and their horses have evolved from the ranch backgrounds and saddle/work horses of days gone by to diverse professions and recreational horseflesh. But I could still see and feel the drama and magic that had started so many years ago. Everyone seemed happy to stop and pose for my pictures _ proud of the part they were playing in history.
That night, at the rodeo, I looked through my camera once again at tradition being replayed. The judges, timers, pickup men, and the dedicated handful of behind-the-chute volunteers saddled up and rode hard to get the contestants safely and surely into the arena to entertain the appreciative Rendezvous crowd. Though the face of rodeo never changes, except in the faces I captured on film, the heart of the sport will live forever _ in the father I captured helping his son down onto his first bucking horse; in the grandpa checking the cinch for his rodeo princess granddaughter; in the bull fighters' light-footed dance with a ton of bull; in the adrenaline of the wrecks and near misses, both in the arena and outside; and in the little kids' glee at filling pop cans and wading in the irrigation ditch behind the concession stand. The outhouse, though, sadly, has changed from the smelly, tipsy, clapboard "tilder" of my childhood to a modern, smelly, cinderblock creation.
I wrapped up my shootin' session about midnight, downtown at the local pubs. People by then were oozing into the warm streets bound for still more music and mischief. I fell in alongside some of my friends who were singing: Where have you been all evening?
Inside one of the bars, I carried on as a photographer, snapping off a round or two of pictures _ just to capture for the history books, the slip-slide mood of the 1999 Meet Me on the Green crowd. But after the second flash burst in the face of the happy crowd, I was cornered and convinced to lose that camera. I was on sacred stompin' grounds. No pictures allowed! So, the boss and his wife, and my husband and I danced, whet our whistles, discussed the events we'd missed this year, and proceeded to do what folks throughout the more than 150-year history of Rendezvous have always done _ we had one hellava of a good time!
Photo credits: Cris Paravicini
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