On Friday, May 13, 2022 the 18th Annual Mountain Man Rendezvous was hosted at the Carbon School District’s Office lawn. Mrs. Karen Bedont and her family started the tradition in 2004, at the Lighthouse Life and Learning Center as part of a humanities class. It has since become a district-wide event where students in the 4th grade come and learn about this unique part of Utah’s history. Mrs. Bedont invites community and district members to contribute - there is also Bart Cox who comes up from Emery County and the DWR, both who have come every year since the first rendezvous in 2004.
Bedont said that they try to add something new each year, and she invites anyone who has experience or expertise in Utah Historical Trade Era knowledge to please reach out to her! The first rendezvous was in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Mountain Men followed their trail looking for beaver; Jim Bridger - who Fort Bridger, in Wyoming, is named after and founded by - greatly expanded the maps of the Rockies and even helped guide pioneers and other westward settlers.
This year’s guests were as follows.
Tyler Clark and his daughter taught fire starting using flint and steel, he also explained how to create your own char cloth and how to start a fire using a magnifying glass.
Paul Bedont dressed as a trapper and explained to the students why the mountain men came to Utah - and why they are such an integral part of Utah’s history. He purchased real beaver fur swatches for students to take home with them.
Bill Thayn was next preparing and sharing Dutch oven peach cobbler - he explained how we make cobblers today and the differences with how they would have been made back in the 1800’s.
Adam Bedont demonstrated the use of black powder rifles and how to safely load and use them.
Bart Cox brought his own multicolored tipi and provided students with a tasting opportunity and knick knacks for students to look and enjoy.
Jennifer Roberts, Tracy Bedont and Lynette Richardson ran the trader store where kids could actually purchase items usually for a dollar or less. All of the items in the trader store are purchased by the Bedont family for students to enjoy - Mrs. Bedont emphasized that this is not a for-profit event, that they simply understand that students like to have the opportunity to take things home with them and that is why they provide items for students to buy at a discounted price.
The next stop was Christine Johnson teaching about tipi etiquette and how both Native Americans and the mountain men would usually live during this time period.
Leah Lettington, Tina Urbanik and Debbie Peet provided a recipe straight out of Lewis and Clark’s journal - black beans, corn kernels, cayenne pepper, and sunflower nuts all cooked together. Many students went back for a second…and sometimes third tasting.
Next was the Department of Wildlife Resources, a subsidiary of the Department of Natural Resource. They provided a history of Utah’s native animals including furs and antlers; additionally, they brought bows and arrows, and targets for the students to shoot under supervision.
The final stop was with Bodee Wigington; the tomahawk thrower. He explained that he started throwing knives first competitively and eventually got into tomahawks as well. He has won numerous competitions and ran a scout camp at the Iron Mission in Cedar CIty.
The visiting 4th graders were given approximately ten minutes at each station, and because some of the stops did not need that much time, Karen Bedont and the Bedont grandchildren had games from the era for the students to play while they may be waiting; including a game they called sticks and balls which seemed to be a cross between modern day lacrosse and ladder ball. Students would carry two balls tied together with a string on a stick trying to keep anyone from stealing the balls and when they got close enough they had to throw the balls from their stick and try to get it to wrap around the “goal” which was a stick held up horizontally about 3-4 feet above the ground.
There was something there for each student who visited to enjoy, and you could see their enthusiasm. A special thank you to the Bedont families and all of the volunteers who participated to make this event possible.