On the border between South Dakota and North Dakota lies a small town with a big presence. Lemmon, SD, was founded in 1906 by cattle rancher George Ed Lemmon and has continued to grow in many ways over the years.
Started three years ago, the Hugh Glass Rendezvous is a 4-day festival dedicated to the life-changing experience of the same named frontier man. In 1823, Hugh Glass was attacked and mauled by a grizzly bear near present day Shadehill Reservoir. This was the subject of the 2015 drama, The Revenant, and won many awards for the story. Using the movie as a catalyst for people interested in history, the town of Lemmon started the Rendezvous and has had much success with it since. This year the rendezvous was August 24th – 27th, 2017.
A rendezvous in the historical sense is a festival or gathering where interested parties get together and dress in historical garb, shoot period firearms, throw axes, and partake in any other activities that people of that period would have done. All the above takes place at the Hugh Glass Rendezvous in addition to many other activities. This year they had over 60 people camping on the grounds in primitive tents and clothing, the only way to camp during the event. In addition to those spending the night out there, they had several hundred visitors each day to participate in the festivities and enjoy all the different activities for kids and adults.
What makes this rendezvous really interesting is it takes place right where Hugh Glass was attacked and there is a monument to this on site. While you can visit the monument year round, it’s a special site and feeling to visit during the rendezvous. Local sculptor John Lopez has always enjoyed the regional history and decided to commemorate the story with a life-size sculpture of the attack, on view at the Grand River Museum.
While in Lemmon, be sure to stop at the Kokomo Inn Art Gallery. The Kokomo serves as the official gallery of John Lopez and houses many pieces of his work. There are also photos of his sculptures that are on display elsewhere in the country. An adjacent patio has a sculpture of Ed Lemmon as well as a mural by Nigerian artists Dotun Popoola & Jonathan Imafidor.
So when visiting western South Dakota be sure to make time to drive up to Lemmon, and if you find yourself there in August swing by the Hugh Glass Rendezvous.