Dog Hollow Rendezvous Celebrates 20 Years
Oskaloosa, Iowa – The 20th Annual Dog Hollow Rendezvous continues to help bring the past to life at a small encampment just off Highway 92 at Caldwell Park just east of Oskaloosa.
The group works to reenact the time period between 1800 and 1840. This year, 18 participants camped out at the site. “We’re small but the quality is good”, Jim Walker, leader of the group, said of the turnout for this year.
The family-friendly atmosphere is an important part of life for the group. Teaching traditional skills such as knife throwing, archery, or cooking over an open fire and being away from the technology that dominates people’s lives today. “How you can have fun as a family, and not have to have all that stuff,” Walker says of the time spent together at rendezvous.
The goal is to show life before the time period of 1840 because after that the Civil War started and the fur trade and rugged life of a trapper or fur trader disappeared.
Things were different this year with an active burn ban in place. No smell of campfire cooking and no sound of crackling logs in the fire pit made things just a little different than normal.
Walker, who helped to start the Timberwolves nearly 20 years ago with 3 others, is the last remaining member from its start in those earliest days in Ottumwa. “There was 4 of us when we were Scout Masters and we basically went with bigger boys and bigger toys.” Walker says, and after those earliest days, it’s become a hobby. “Basically we are a group of people who love and want living history.”
Walker explained that in 2003, they moved the rendezvous to Caldwell Park. Walker was the last of the original four who had started the group, and he brought it to his home town. Walker said, “It doesn’t seem possible,” at the length of time the rendezvous has been going on.
Timberwolves leader Jim Walker stated, “What we want to do is teach the public and Mahaska County what living history is, and we’re here at Caldwell Park because Caldwell is history itself in Mahaska County.”
Not being familiar with the history of the park, Walker explained to me the significance of the park. “Calwell Park used to belong to a man and wife. In the depression era [they] used their farm as a garden area for the city. They would have people from the city come out, and where we are standing today would be lots for gardens, because there was no food. She broke up this hay field into lots and they had gardens. They would come out, tend their garden, and then use the big red barn that is behind me to have barn dances after they would tend their gardens. The Caldwells were gracious enough in their will that they wanted this place to be a park for the people, and she donated it to Mahaska County. We’re trying to promote it and Native American history and the frontier because history’s very important.”