LITTLE VALLEY - The annual Sportsmen's Rendezvous takes over the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds in Little Valley just days after the close of the fair.
This year's dates are Friday, Aug. 8, Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10.
The transition from fair to rendezvous is surprisingly smooth, considering the time constraints. No sooner are the remnants of the 2014 fair swept up, than the Rendezvous' organizers and vendors repopulate the midway with their booths, tents and tailgate displays.
Kathy O’Connell, left, one of last year’s historic re-enactors, shows off her display of hides and skulls to interested visitors at 2013’s Sportsmen’s Rendezvous. Her teenage son, Jake, has served as the camp’s “boushway” (organizer) for several years. The group’s composition changes constantly, as its participants schedule around other summer commitments. The group takes pride in leaving no trace of its encampment behind, when the event is over.
File photo by Arvilla Pritchard
The event is sponsored by the Cattaraugus County Trappers' Association, and as might be expected, leans heavily toward outdoor sports and living. Some of its vendors have been setting up there for years, some are new to the scene. The array of merchandise presented for sale is surprisingly varied and ever-changing.
The more predictable offerings include guns and ammo (including black powder supplies), archery equipment, traps of every type and size, fishing gear and knives, both new and antique. But there are also booths featuring alpaca products, leather moccasins, Native American beadwork, military artifacts, T-shirts, handmade wood products and assorted collectibles of every description.
The association's board of directors say they've been working hard to make the event more family-friendly than ever. The daily admission fee is only $5 per car, regardless of the number of occupants. Camping on the grounds is also permitted, and there's plenty of good food available. Vending of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Once again, the Mountain Man Encampment will be in evidence. There, re-enactors pick a historic era (such as the Civil War) and re-create it as authentically as possible. They set up their own shelters, build cook fires, and camp for the duration of the Rendezvous, allowing no modern conveniences to intrude. Kids and adults are welcome to visit and talk with these knowledgeable historians who delight in sharing their passion for times gone by.
The three days of the Rendezvous are laid out with a total of 11 informative talks and demonstrations packed into Saturday and Sunday.
Opening day is Friday, and the Rendezvous will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's the only one free of scheduled events, leaving visitors time to browse the show, check in with old friends and find out what's new.
On Saturday,, the Rendezvous will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an auction to follow. Social time, featuring "Rockin' with the Ambush Band," will follow social time. Saturday is also chicken barbecue day.
Saturday's demo schedule follows:
9 a.m.: White Acres - Equipment
10 a.m.: Night Owl Lures - Fox Trapping
11 a.m.: Jeff Dunlap - Beaver & Otter
1 p.m.: Mike Wilhite - Fisher Martin
2 p.m.: Darin Freeborough - Woodland Canine
3 p.m.: Coon Creek Equipment
4 p.m.: Bailey's Fox - Fox Raising (at tailgate location)
Sunday, the Rendezvous is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day's schedule follows:
10 a.m.: David Allen - Set Location
11 a.m.: Darin Freeborough - Fox Trapping
Noon: Mike Wilhite - Coon Trapping
1 p.m.: Jeff Dunlap - Mink & Muskrat
The Cattaraugus Trapper's Association reminds those bringing firearms to sell at the show to double-check current New York state law. Sellers must get the gun tagged at the front gate and find a dealer willing to do a background check for them. A pistol permit clerk will be on the premises.
Visitors may find some of the traditional exhibits (such as the Big Buck display) under the grandstand. And, just as it always has, the faintest whiff of skunk will tickle your nostrils. That's how you know you're there.