Open-air market, music, dancing, activities poised to evoke Native American history

Native American culture will come to life at the Mark Twain Cave Complex during the third annual Bear Creek Rendezvous from 9 a.m. to dusk Saturday, Aug. 12 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, as the successful event continues to attract more vendors, storytellers and other participants.

Linda Coleberd, owner of the Mark Twain Cave, said she spent half her life in Wyoming, receiving inspiration from the rendezvous that took place between Native Americans, traders and trappers in Wyoming and the Dakotas in the early- to mid-1800s. The traders often started out from St. Louis, heading west with items like sugar, coffee and utensils to trade for beads, hides, pottery and other goods offered by Native Americans. Coleberd has been preparing traditional children’s pioneer-era games and various activities for visitors of all ages, looking forward to sharing with families what life was like during those gatherings 200 years ago.

An open-air market will feature handmade traditional items, food and crafts from vendors, evoking the trading experience from centuries past.

Tessa Hosmer, marketing staff member at Mark Twain Cave, said the free event will begin with a parade filled with flute and drum music at 10 a.m. at the Mark Twain Cave Complex. The Standing Bear Council of Keokuk, Iowa will perform traditional flute and drum music throughout the weekend, beginning with a grand entrance at noon on Saturday. The Omeyocan Dancers will return with their colorful traditional dance performances at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Hosmer said visitors to the family-friendly event will be able to try their hand at a variety of skills throughout the day, including a black powder event, archery, flint knapping, copper hammering and woodworking.

Coleberd said storytellers will entertain children throughout the event, and she has activities planned including a game where kids can use a handmade bat to hit a hacky sack into a bushel basket, hula hoops wrapped in burlap and a slingshot game where kids can shoot a soft item into the basket.

Food will include buffalo burgers and beverages served by vendors in the market, Coleberd said, and two teepees will be on site. Hosmer said she felt excited for her first chance to experience the heritage, sights, sounds, smells, tastes and hands-on aspects of the Bear Creek Rendezvous.

“I just think it’s pretty exciting to be able to participate in something that brings together what you would have seen here in the past, as well as celebrating the different cultures we have here to boast about here in America,” she said.

For more information about the event, please call the Mark Twain Cave Complex at 573-221-1656.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at