A call to arms

An invitation to become a member of the
Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Inc.

The British are coming! To arms! The British are coming!!! And YOU can do something about it.

You can see to it that they are welcomed, are fed, and are housed appropriately for one of the most popular gatherings in southwestern Indiana -- the annual Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous.

All you need to arm yourself are enthusiasm, energy, and dedication. Two arms would come in handy to issue brochures at the attendance gate. Two arms would help maintain the beautiful French Commons which serves as the Rendezvous' home. Two arms would reach out to the community through public relations activities with the local print and broadcast media. How about making this call TO ARMS, your TWO ARMS?

For the past 28 years, British soldiers, French habitants, and American frontiersmen have met during the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Their quest -- to return Vincennes to its 18th century roots when the British dominated the region, but the French actually lived throughout this region: a region which the Americans most dearly wanted to conquer.

This amazingly complicated, colorful, and highly significant time of Vincennes' history is brought back to life through the solid work and co-operation of the members of the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Inc. , in conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), the Northwest Territory Alliance (NWTA), and the citizens of Vincennes and Knox County.

From their collective efforts arise the rows of tents whose cloth glows reddish-orange in the campfires of the approximate 400 to 500 living history re-enactors. The organizers' planning is magical - literally - as it provides a variety of entertainers. And there's always something yummy waiting for the tummy thanks to the preparations they take to invite tempting food vendors to the event.

As the Rendezvous continues to flourish, this association is becoming more innovative in its approach towards its premier activity. Successful people make for a successful event. Thus, part of the Rendezvous' future prosperity will come from new members joining the ranks of this highly spirited, highly motivated group.

This invitation is being extended to all who might be interested in becoming a part of this exciting experience. The opportunity is there to become acquainted with community leaders who set an excellent example of community involvement. Yet each Rendezvous member, whether or not he or she is a civic leader, becomes just as important in the promotion of Vincennes' glorious history.

Still, one does not have to be a "history freak" in order to join the ranks of the Rendezvous. Many times individuals have hesitated to join the organization for fear that they would be required to dress in 18th century clothing. While having members dressed in period clothing adds to the event's atmosphere, attiring oneself in moccasins, leggings, petticoats, or bodices is optional.

The absolute key to being a good, valuable Rendezvous member is to have an interest in the community coupled with a sincere desire to promote the same. If you have that, then the Rendezvous wants to have you.

Please read further to learn more about the Rendezvous' mission along with the benefits and responsibilities of membership.

 The Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous Mission

The Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Inc. maintains the following mission statement:

 

The mission of the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous is to promote and preserve

the heritage of Vincennes by providing a two-day, family-oriented,

historical festival for the people of Vincennes and Knox County,

and visitors from throughout the Midwest.

Committee members fulfill this vital mission by providing a festival as outlined in the organization's charter. This annual major event, called the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, is undertaken through joint affiliated sponsorship with city officials and with representatives of the NPS at its George Rogers Clark National Historical Park (NHP).

The Rendezvous is designed to honor the memory of those who served during this nation's various wars, but most specifically, those who fought during the American Revolution. Thus, the committee schedules the event for the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend when America's attention is drawn to its beloved deceased war veterans.

Vincennes is ideally suited to feature such a patriotic festival because the city is home to one of the greatest Revolutionary War victories. At 10 a.m., Thurs., Feb. 25, 1779, British Lt. Gov. Henry Hamilton surrendered Fort Sackville to American Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark. The fort stood where the Clark Memorial is located today -- on the grounds of the George Rogers Clark NHP. Quite appropriately, the French Commons, where the Rendezvous' battlefield activities and stage entertainment occur, is situated adjacent to the national park property.

Amid this picturesque scene lies the perfect setting for a festival representing the Vincennes frontier lifestyle and culture of the time period, 1700 to 1840. The reenactors, period entertainers, and food vendors supply the sights, sounds, and tastes for the diverse activities.

But these people need support. They need to know that the minute details are being handled by competent committee members, individual volunteers, corporate sponsors, and local not-for-profit organizations. Their commitment to quality, period authenticity, safety, cleanliness, environmental aesthetics, and a friendly atmosphere brings enjoyment to all Rendezvous visitors, volunteers, and participants.

Yet all this comes at no burdensome cost to the visitor. Rendezvous officials strive to provide a premier festival that is both pleasing and affordable. If there be any burden, it is to see that the Rendezvous' fine tradition continues well into the 21st century. This can be accomplished through the continual infusion of fresh new blood. Thus, the committee actively seeks new recruits -- be they individual volunteers or corporate sponsors.

Other activities of the Rendezvous Committee

Although the May celebration is the foremost project undertaken by the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Inc., there are several other enterprises assumed by the group. Scholarships are awarded to one graduating senior from each of Knox County's four high schools.

The Rendezvous' home, the French Commons, is made available for other appropriate activities throughout the year.

An individual who has been tireless and praiseworthy in his or her efforts to promote Knox County's history is presented the Rendezvous' Long Knife Award. This distinguished community service award received its name from that term, Long Knife, which was used by the local American Indians. To the latter, Long Knife best described the rugged frontiersmen of Clark's army who carried big knives or, in some cases, swords.

Several of the Rendezvous members volunteer to attend conferences, meetings, and other civic functions conducted in Vincennes and throughout the immediate Knox County area. The mere presence of these living history enthusiasts, attired in 18th century clothing and laden with period-correct equipment, lends a special air to any gathering. Occasionally these Rendezvous representatives will be asked to speak about the significance of Vincennes' role in the American Revolution, about the lifestyles of the people they are portraying, or simply about the Rendezvous itself. New members also would have the same opportunity to promote the Rendezvous in this fashion.

 Membership in the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous

A $5 annual membership fee is one of the few requirements which must be met in order to become a Rendezvous member. The organization's meetings are conducted the second Tuesday of each month from January through June. An annual meeting scheduled for September is devoted to the election of new officers and to the discussion of plans for the upcoming Rendezvous which lies only eight months away.

The organization is structured as follows. There are six officers: 1. President, 2. Vice president, 3. Second vice president, 4. Corresponding secretary, 5. Recording secretary, and 6. Treasurer.

Chairpersons head the following eight committees: 1. Merchants, traders, and craftsmen; 2. Encampment activities; 3. Entertainment; 4. Grounds; 5. Public attendance; 6. Information booth; 7. Finance; and 8. Marketing and publicity. All Rendezvous members have an opportunity to serve on one or more of the eight committees.

In return for their time and effort, Rendezvous members receive free admission to the annual Memorial Day weekend event which includes such activities as the celebrated battle reenactments by the NWTA members, stirring Revolutionary era music by the Tippecanoe Ancient Fife & Drum Corp., and rousing artillery demonstrations by the Alexander Hamilton New York Provincial Coy of Artillery.

Members also are given discounts for all official Rendezvous souvenirs and are invited to attend the annual appreciation dinner conducted during September.

 So, what do you say?

So, what do you say? Is the Rendezvous for you? If you would enjoy working with this organization which promotes the community, champions the area's history, and provides an enjoyable family festival, then please consider membership in the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Inc.

The Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Inc.
P.O. Box 1816
Vincennes, In 47591

Send e-mail to Terry Wise President of the Spirit of Vincennes, Inc. for information about the next meeting. Everyone is welcome to attend.
To become a volunteer volunteer@spiritofvincennes.org.
 

Spirit of Vincennes Home

The Spirit of Vincennes, Inc. is a non-profit organization
dedicated to preserving and to presenting
the history of the Vincennes, Indiana area.
Spirit of Vincennes, Inc
P.O. Box 1816
Vincennes, IN 47591

Web Master Frank Doughman, Webmaster @ spiritofvincennes.org