20th anniversary of the Big Muddy River Rendezvous in Winona - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

20th anniversary of the Big Muddy River Rendezvous in Winona

WINONA, Minn. (FOX 47) --  It's the 20th year for the Big Muddy River Rendezvous at Prairie Island Campground in Winona. 

The event began Tuesday and will be open until Sunday. The event teaches thousands of kids every year about the way life was in the fur-trading era of the 1840s. 

"It's Minnesota, the leaves are changing, we're next to the Mississippi River, it doesn't get any better than that," said Jan Johnson, who goes by "Grandma Jan."

"It does my heart good to see kids come out here and that light bulb goes off and they think 'wow, I really like my life now because it was really hard back then,'" said organizer Luke Acord.

Thousands of kids from Minnesota and Wisconsin learning hands-on as history comes to life.

"They have to use their imagination because they're not allowed to bring anything electronic," Johnson said.

Kids got their hand at axe throwing, candle making, and learned about guns, fur, and other living commodities of the time.

"We try to show the little guys from the schools that this is the way your forefathers lived, and it wasn't an easy life," Johnson said.

For these "Skinners," it's not just a hobby or a personal preference, it's tradition and family.

"My grandma works here and I always come here to see my grandma," said 11-year-old Devon Johnson.

"Like I said, they are a family. They are our family," Jan Johnson added.

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