Monday, October 25, 2021

Rural Small Towns And Folks With Big Hearts

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

There’s no shortage of small towns when you travel across the United States, each one with its own special flavor, architecture, unique shops, art, restaurants, bars and food special to the area. Out west, however, you’ll find more than one town with wooden sidewalks, and no home mail delivery, which makes going to the post office a daily or weekly social event, depending on how far you have to drive. Probably the best feature is honest to goodness, down-home, look-you-in the-eye friendliness.

It’s not uncommon if you asked for directions, that because a route is convoluted, the person trying to explain the directions would give up and say, “Follow me, I’ll show you the way” and jump back in the beat-up pickup truck with a wave as you started your own vehicle in disbelief.

Most of the way to the destination, you’d look at each other and wonder if this was real. Past the half-dead pine tree (part of the directions he mentioned), he’d pull over to the right so he could put the finishing touches on the correct turns to take from there, make sure you understood, touch his cowboy hat (usually) and drive back the way he came.

Trappers dressed for the cold brutal winters.

Now, I’m not saying that this type of hospitality is limited to western states, in fact, I’ve experienced the same open, friendly attitudes in small towns across the United State, as I hope you have. This particular small town in Pinedale, Wyoming, also creates some very special patriotic moments that stimulate your roots to reach into our heritage and embrace it for all you’re worth. Some examples;

After all the Fourth of July festivities, fireworks, picnics and trips to the beach and mountains, the town gears up for the Green River Rendezvous, the second weekend in July. This celebration honors the original trappers, traders and Indians of the inter-mountain West who gathered along the Green River for several springs of the year, beginning in the 1800s, to barter furs in exchange for tools, whiskey, beads, saddles, clothing, black powder, lead shot and other assorted trinkets provided by the trading companies. This reenactment tribute event has been the most popular and well-attended event in the Pinedale area since 1936.

The actual site of many of the historical Green River Rendezvous gatherings was about four miles from Pinedale, and is a National Historical Landmark, hence the local interest and re-enactments of the event which draws large crowds, Locals and visitors reserve their favorite vantage points along the parade route hours and days before it starts with the American flag, Wyoming flag carried by horseback riders. Next, Native Americans in their regalia, trappers, children and women, most riding bareback in buckskins interspersed with local performing groups, candidates running for something or other, businesses displaying the latest snow machines and off-road vehicles and the Search and Rescue staff and vehicles that really get a workout in the Wind River Mountains.

Trappers/traders, in full costume, set up their buckskin tents with their wares to trade with the attendees in “Trader’s Row.” There are demonstrations; carving, hatchet-throwing, loading/shooting black powder rifles, pottery, pine-needle basket weaving and more. Every year the event includes new “traders” with unique items that harken back to the “ole days” so it’s always evolving.

In the historic days of the Rendezvous, more than 500 trappers/traders/Native Americans gathered to participate. Jim Beckwourth, one of the most famous mountain men, described these events as, “Mirth, songs, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent.” The Mountain Man Museum in Pinedale is exquisite and a great place to learn more about the culture of the area. You can’t miss it, it’s up the hill overlooking the town and there’s a full-size tipi outside.

Wyoming and many other states have huge rodeo fans. In fact, they just had the National High School Rodeo Finals Championship this month south of Pinedale about 100 miles. One ceremony that really captures the heart and soul of Wyoming is the ritual ceremony involving the Riderless Horse, that gives tribute to our fallen heroes, cowboys, Presidents, veterans and more, depending when and where the ceremony takes place. After a presentation of the American flag and Wyoming state flag, riders sit at attention and silence as the Riderless Horse is led in


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