huntington learning center

Experience Living History at the Alafia River Rendezvous – January 22-23

Alafia River Rendezvous Florida Frontiersmen (1)

Step back in time at the Alafia River Rendezvous! This annual event in Polk County is a living portrayal of pre-1840 America where children and families can enjoy a living history lesson one weekend each January.

While the full event covers 10 days, there are 2 days that the public is invited to join the participants for demonstrations, tours, food, memorabilia, and a historical experience unlike any other! This year you can join the fun on Friday & Saturday, January 22-23, 2021 from 9am – 4pm each day. {School Groups and Homeschoolers are welcome on Thursday but advance registration is required}.

So what exactly is the Alafia River Rendezvous?

Described as the Southeast’s largest pre-1840 Living History Encampment, approximately 1400 participants come from all over Florida and the US to Homeland, Florida (6 miles south of Bartow) to reenact a primitive lifestyle of the time period of their choice (pre-1840). Participants dress in clothing appropriate to their time period, from animal skin caps to beaded moccasin shoes. Many people camp on site in tents and shelters that would have been seen in pre-1840 America.

Campers and participants enjoy a primitive experience for the week with the goal of being as historically accurate as possible. The public is welcome to visit on two specific days each year, you can wander at your leisure down the rows of booths, stop for artisans demonstrating crafts, watch performances, talk to the participants, and more. The event is hosted by the Florida Frontiersmen, a group dedicated to historical preservation.

I had heard about the Alafia River Rendezvous for many years and finally visited on a school field trip in 2020. It is an event unlike anything else I’ve been to before! If you and your family enjoy new experiences and appreciate history, this is a fun event for all ages.

VIDEO: Alafia River Rendezvous

Take a peek at our 60-second video, or read on for more details.

A few of the things we enjoyed at the Alafia River Rendezvous:

  • Flint Knapping – We watched a man create an arrowhead from flint and obsidian. It was fascinating and he did a great job of explaining the process to the kids.
  • Ax Throwing, Archery, and Shooting – There is a designated area where you can watch participants compete and try to hit the targets.
  • Drum Circle & Music Performances – We stopped to watch a group of Native American participants perform a drum circle and chant, and also enjoyed music from a bagpipe player. There are other music performances around the property as well.
  • Storytelling – The group I was with got to peek inside a teepee and listen to a Native American story. Another group stopped and heard from “Daniel Boone.” Visitors will enjoy a variety of storytellers.
  • Quilting and spinning yarn – Participants demonstrated how fabric was made from spinning yarn to hand quilting blankets.
  • Demonstrations – There are also booths where you can watch the process for hide tanning, broom making, blacksmithing, soap making, weaving and more.
  • Vendor Booths – Explore the rows and rows of booths where you can buy everything from bows and arrows to old time candy to rootbeer to old fashioned toys.
  • Baby’s Indian Frybread – Yes, this is a specific booth a friend told me to visit. It was amazing!

My best advice is to wander around and check out whatever looks interesting! Look for the red “Living History Stop” signs for designated demonstration areas.

(My apologies to the participants if I’ve described one of these activities incorrectly – I’m going off memory and welcome you to send us corrections!)

Know before you go:

  • This is an entirely outdoor experience and you will be walking on grass and dirt. Dress accordingly, wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Be sure to pick up a map at the gate if they are available, this is helpful if you want to find specific displays or activities.
  • Take cash for admission, food, and merchandise.
  • Bathrooms are available for guests in the form of porta potties.
  • If you normally use a stroller, take a stroller. The event covers a large area and requires a fair amount of walking.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Participants enjoy talking about their craft, their wares, their food, etc. They have worked hard to create a historically accurate experience and want to share it with guests.
  • Remember that you are a guest! Be aware that there are designated areas for public visitors, be sure you aren’t wandering into someone’s private lodgings for the week.
  • Take a mask and practice social distancing.
  • Remind your kids to ask before they touch. Some items are for display only or might be fragile.
  • Keep in mind that in 2021 there will be fewer participants than normal so some of these experiences or booths might not be available.
  • Set expectations accordingly as you “step back in time.” This will likely be an entirely new experience for your kids!

2021 Alafia River Rendezvous Details

Event Dates: Friday, January 22, 2021 and Saturday, January 23, 2021 from 9am – 4pm
Location: Florida Frontiersman Property – 1000 Old Fort Meade Road, Homeland, FL 33847
Prices (Cash Only): $10 Adults
$5 Seniors (60+) & Children (4-15)
Free – Children 3 & under
More information: Alafia River Rendezvous Website | Facebook

Visit our Calendar for a full list of upcoming Family-Friendly Events.

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