It was the perfect weekend for being outdoors, with blue skies, low humidity and comfortable temperatures.

And one Fort Atkinson family took full advantage of Mother Nature’s gift.

With the coronavirus pandemic prompting cancellation of the 27th annual Fort Koshkonong Rendezvous, traditionally held at Rock River Park over Memorial Day weekend, the Hamele family decided to hold their own “buckskinners” encampment last weekend.

From Saturday through mid-Sunday, the Fort Hamele Rendezvous took place in Nick and Christine Hamele’s backyard along South Main Street on Fort Atkinson’s south side.

Nick Hamele, a Fort Atkinson High School science teacher, is a Fort Koshkonong Rendezvous planning committee member. A blacksmith, he built the forge, bellows, various utensils, chairs and other items around the camp.

He also built the rendezvous chuckwagon kitchen for his wife, Christine, an East Troy Elementary School counselor, for her birthday. It features a Polish folk art design, giving a nod to her family history.

Among the other campers on hand were daughter Rachel Hamele, 19, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire education major striving to become a history teacher, and Zoe Szabo, 10, the Hameles’ niece.

The Fort Hamele Rendezvous featured some of the crafts and chores that would have been taking place at the popular Fort Koshkonong Rendezvous, a re-enactment of life circa the 1830-40s, when fur trappers, mountain men, voyageurs, buckskinners and other trailblazers would gather at the end of the season to sell or trade their wares and blow off not a little steam.

The Hameles slept in their canvas tent Saturday night. Rachel sewed herself a cloak ... by hand, of course, while Zoe helped the family by churning butter for their meals, cooked over an open fire. Nick demonstrated blacksmithing for the friends and neighbors stopping by.

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