Fur Traders Rendezvous

A visit to the Fur Traders Rendezvous at the North Dakota State Fair will feel like a trip back to the days of the Wild West.

Ben Smith, of Brookings, S.D., is a veteran of many a rendezvous but this is his first time as an exhibitor at the North Dakota State Fair.

“I know everybody here,” said Smith, which persuaded him to exhibit at Minot.

Smith, who is part Cherokee, is portraying an Iroquois scout, complete with authentic clothing and face paint.

A fascinated crowd gathered around Smith’s campfire in the encampment to watch him roast a pork tenderloin over an open fire.

“It’s a modern recipe, using traditional methods,” said Smith.

Smith’s tent is also filled with the artifacts that a scout in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company might have had.

He explained that he chose to portray the type of scout who made birch bark canoes because those scouts had more things.

He also was wearing a hand-made block print shirt, leather leggings, breech cloth and moccasins, apparel that would have been worn by the scout.

Other items in his tent are also replicas of the sort of things that a scout might have had, like wooden dishes and rifles.

Scouts were employed by companies like the Hudson Bay Company between the 1730s and 1840s and helped guide traders and explorers into the wilderness.

Scouts who were members of tribes like the Iroquois were chosen as guides because they knew the landscape. Birch bark canoes, which could seat more people, were used for larger expeditions.

Smith is just one of several exhibitors at the Fur Traders Rendezvous, which will be held throughout the North Dakota State Fair. Many of the other exhibitors are returnees.

At some of their booths, people can try their hand at making block prints on fabric, watch demonstrations or buy replicas of old-time toys like slingshots.