Metro-East News

Weekend takes you from the circus to the battlefront

The Black Knights will be representing the First Dragoons of Virginia during the Revolutionary War at the annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous this weekend.
The Black Knights will be representing the First Dragoons of Virginia during the Revolutionary War at the annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous this weekend.

After talking to an old-style weapons expert, I’m too shaky to type. Five Things To Do this weekend include – gulp – watching swordplay.

Swords, sabers and cannon

Did you know the small sword – its actual name, I wouldn’t call it diminutive – requires great skill and is used to puncture? And the saber is better for chopping off heads and limbs?

Bruce Sikes, of the Black Knights of St. Louis, knows all about it. He, Dan Graham and Kendra Brown (historically accurate, Sikes says, women were also trained in the use of swords during the era) will be among the hundreds of re-enactors this weekend at the annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres, at 1350 Illinois Route 155, 4 miles west of Prairie du Rocher. Opening ceremonies are at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; retreat ceremonies are at 5 p.m. There’s a dance at 8 p.m. Saturday inside the fort.

Sikes said the best-known sword of the time was the small sword, which he called “the officers and gentleman’s sword,” and took finesse to use.

“The saber was a no-nonsense chop and move on to the next guy,” kind of weapon, he said. The Black Knights re-enact many historical periods, but this weekend will focus on the French and Indian war period of 1745 to 1820 in keeping with the Rendezvous.

In addition to the swordplay, a cannon will boom every hour and there will be all manner of weaponry competitions for the re-enactors living during the time the area was controlled by the French. Visitors aren’t left out of the competition, we can join the knife and hawk throw at noon Saturday or the skillet toss at noon Sunday.

The whole weekend will have live music throughout the day from re-enactors, as well as performances and marches by the 42nd Royal Highlanders Band of Pipes, Fifes and Drums. They’ll have an 18th Century fashion show at 3:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is free; parking is $5 a vehicle. Go to and click on “events” for more information. There are also artisans demonstrating their pottery and metal-working, and wearing and embroidery skills along with a variety of period food and drink.

Funny red hats at the circus

The Ainad Shriner’s Circus is at the Belle Claire Fairgrounds four times this weekend: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Adult ticket prices are $15; children are $10 (buy online and get up to two free children’s passes per adult admission).

You can ride an elephant at the intermission, amid watching tigers and the Barbie Doll Sisters and Hugo’s Arabian Knights. At some point they’ll bring in the clowns, as well as some motorcycle madness and, of course, jugglers. Go to for more information.

Meanwhile, the annual Shrine Parade, which kicks off the circus, steps off at 7:30 p.m. Friday. It comes up West Main Street starting at 17th Street and winds around the Fountain, then continuing along East Main Street.

At the Tower

Expect easels and artists at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, when members of the Gateway East Artists’ Guild will be practicing their crafts and selling their wares.

It’s the first “Artists by the River” event at the tower, at 435 Confluence Tower Drive in Hartford. Sue Lowry hopes her donation of the copper sculpture “Confluence” will be the start of a collection at the tower. There will be a reception in her honor at 1 p.m.

Artists at the tower will be painting or drawing in the plein-air style, which simply means creating art outside using the scenery as inspiration.

The Tower is open as well, with admission being $4 for adults, $3 for active military/veterans, $3 for adults 62 and over, $2 for children 12 and under and children 2 and under are free.


Once a year, you can get local, freshly made, preservative-free horseradish. That time is now.

Kim Pamatot, the Horseradish Festival events and activities chairman, says a secret recipe is made specifically for the Horseradish Festival, and “it does taste better than what you can buy anytime of the year at any grocery.”

The annual Horseradish Festival in Collinsville starts Friday and continues runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Woodland Park in Collinsville. In addition to the craft fair, food and children’s area, look for the Washer Tournament at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, a root toss from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, a recipe contest at 1 p.m. Sunday, a root-stacking contest on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There’s also the Little Miss Horseradish Festival Pageant, a Bloody Mary Contest and more.

Jakey In June

The folks in St. Jacob apparently can’t get their fill of barbecue. This weekend they start a competition Friday, and it continues Saturday starting at 4 p.m. (until it’s gone) and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. They’ll have food vendors as well, but the focus is all on the barbecue.

Competition categories are ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, brisket, chef’s choice, dessert and margaritas. Total prize money is $6,000; and cooks can also sell to the public. There’s also a kid’s cook-off.

Jakey in June is at 108 N. Douglas in St. Jacob. Go to for more information.

Ramadan begins Monday at 3:34 a.m. To those who observe, may you eat well this weekend.