at Fort de Chartres
Prairie du Rocher, Illinois
Saturday and Sunday
June 4 - 5, 2016
9 am - 5 pm both days
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site
Small Parking Fee
Each June, Fort de Chartres State Historic Site hosts the largest
rendezvous in the Midwest with over a thousand participants, hundreds of
encampments, and thousands of visitors joining in on the festivities. Based
on the traditional French fur trapper’s rendezvous where trappers and
traders would meet at a predetermined location to trade furs for
necessities, the rendezvous was the highlight of the fur trapper’s year
and is the highlight of Fort de Chartres’s extensive
calendar of historical events and activities.
The Annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres offers
participants and visitors alike a glimpse into the period from 1740-1840, a
part of Illinois’ past when it was governed not only by France but by
Great Britain and the United States as well. Costumed reenactors portray a
variety of personas including colonial military units, mountain men, Native
Americans, settlers, merchants, and more. Historical demonstrations are
located at various locations on the grounds and there are periodic
demonstrations that include period music, military drills, and musket and
As Fort de Chartres is an Illinois Historic Preservation Agency site,
there is a wide variety of interpretive activities that can be found
throughout the grounds. These activities run continuously throughout both days. In the Native
Crafts area, visitors can learn first hand the arts of bow and arrow making,
hide tanning, basket weaving, the use of native foods and herbs, pottery,
the construction of wigwams, and the history of how and why the fur trade
became such an important frontier industry. There are also archery
demonstrations and competitions.
The Colonial Area features demonstrations that include
spinning, dyeing, the use of looms, woodworking, weaving, quilting, rope
making, coopering, and blacksmiths. Located in the Fort buildings themselves are
a French Patron (River Boatman,) a French Marines quarters, a Jesuit missionary
in the Fort's Chapel, and the Piethman
Museum. A French Colonial garden, oxen, and baked goods for sale from a working stone
oven can be found near the demonstration areas. Throughout the grounds are
demonstrations by independent merchants illustrating their skills, and displaying and
selling their creations.
Fort de Chartres began as a French military outpost.
The reconstructed stone fort represents the third fort built by the French,
the first two wooden forts having been destroyed by the Mississippi River.
It was this stone fort that the French turned over to the British in 1765
after the end of the French and Indian War. The British abandoned this fort,
moving their territorial headquarters to the nearby town of Kaskaskia. The abandoned
stone fort was visited by George Rogers Clark during his expedition during
the Revolutionary War. Representing this military tradition are a number of
military reenactment units and marching bands representing all three
colonial powers. Rifle, musket, and artillery competitions are all part of the
Period music can be found at any time during the
event. A center stage is set up within the fort and features various musical
groups throughout the day. Many of these groups can be found entertaining
visitors throughout the grounds when they are not featured on the main
stage. In addition marching military bands with drums, flutes, bagpipes, and
other instruments can be seen patrolling the grounds.
Hundreds of tents, teepees, and other primitive
shelters become the weekend home for the over one thousand reenactors who
come to Fort de Chartres from across the country.
Visitors can gain a lot of insight into the life styles of the fur trapping
era by exploring the Primitive Camp. The reenactors are a friendly bunch and
happy to talk about the specifics of their camp and the personas they
portray. Sutlers, merchants, and trade blankets are located throughout the
grounds selling many period related goods that are only available at this
type of event.
Directions: Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is located 4 miles
west of Prairie du Rocher, about an hours drive south of St. Louis. Take IL-3
to Ruma and then turn west on IL-155. Follow IL-155 through Prairie du
Rocher to the site.
For more information call 618-284-7230.
more about Randolph County
more about Fort de Chartres
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