Deep Portage Learning Center hosts 44th annual Winter Rendezvous – The Bemidji Pioneer

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HACKENSACK — Friends, families and new acquaintances young and old gathered at the Deep Portage Learning Center for its 44th annual Winter Rendezvous on Saturday to spend time in nature and try some new things.
Deep Portage’s environmental educator and organizer of the event John Roth expressed his excitement for the event’s turnout and could finally release the weight on his shoulders as he had been planning for the day since September.
“I was hoping (participants) could have fun, spend time with their friends and family and try something new today — some of our activities people have never done before,” Roth said. “We have 15 awesome activities going, some are really action-packed like trap shooting, ax throwing, cross-cut saw and snow snakes, but we also have Northwoods curling and ice fishing along with just enjoying a simple snack like our Johnny cakes station over at Jackpine Stadium.”
Every January for the past 44 years, Deep Portage Learning Center holds an annual Winter Rendezvous featuring family-friendly fun and a journey back in time to learn about the cultural heritage of Minnesota. Each year, the event’s activities are based on traditional pastimes used by lumberjacks, voyageurs and Native Americans.
“We have this event every single year and we’re always itching for people to come on out and just have fun outdoors here at portage,” Roth said. “It’s a great way for people to come together, whether they’re locals or from afar, it’s just nice to see people.”
The event also included bird watching, bow and arrow, atlatl spear toss, cat and mouse, rabbit sticks and a delicious, warm bowl of chili for lunch. But what kind of a rendezvous would it be if there were no friendly competitions? Attendees could earn points in each activity – their score was based on performance along with participation points.
“At the end of the day, they turn their scorecards in,” Roth said. “We’ll tally up the scores and see who has the highest with all events combined. Then, we will have an awards ceremony at the end of the day and I have some plaques to give out that I made myself.”
Although it was the event’s 44th year anniversary, Deep Portage Learning Center is also celebrating its 50th year in business with a mission to inspire learners of all ages to sustain and celebrate the natural world through the exploration of woods, water and wildlife — and Saturday’s event did just that.
According to Roth, he summarized the day as quality time with family and friends exploring the beautiful Northwoods while having the opportunity to learn new things along the way.
“Some people have never shot a gun or bow and arrow before this event, a lot of our events actually have a lot of history, especially the atlatl’s that date back over 1,000 years ago,” Roth said. “It’s cool to provide people with the opportunity to kind of put themselves in the shoes of what people used to do a long time ago.”