Continued from page 1: judge and chainsaw carver, Rio Dejarnette


Of his 200 plus pieces, only 12 survived the fire, then ten of those were stolen by looters. Dejarnette lost his home, studio and gallery, but remains grateful and positive.

“I feel I was chosen to experience this to help me understand loss, and simplicity,” he told the Montanian. “There is nothing I lost that I can’t make again.”

Looking around at the vibrant life returning to the canyon after a blessedly wet California winter, he said, “I don’t exactly have nothing here.” Still, it was a terrifying time.

Standing on the open ground of what once was his home, Dejarnette recalled, “I was actually 30 miles north the night the fire started, I had house guests here at the time. I got a call at around 9 a.m. to get everything out of the studio, and passed the house along the way, and it was standing. The fire swept through taking the studio but leaving the house only to later catch a  burning ember on the wind.” Dejarnette found out about it from some kids on bikes cruising. the scene later that night. “They were friends of my niece and they sent me pics of it from their phones,” he said. After that, they weren’t allowed back in the area for four days.

“We were kept out because the police were afraid that some of the homeowners in this area would try to shoot the looters. Those hardworking looters took ten of the 12 pieces I had left,” Dejarnette recalled. “I feel I was chosen to experience this to understand what is really important.”

He recalls that many of his overwhelmed neighbors immediately went into “what I can get out of this” mode, and that the FEMA response was “a joke.”

Dejarnette now  lives on the property in a fifth wheel and is excited to be returning to Libby. “Although this is a world-class event, it is not a big moneymaker,” Dejarnette explained. “Paul (Bunn) pays for all the artists transportation and lodging,” he said, but as Backus put it, the festival “is now entering the stage where the money is getting high.”

Dejarnette is excited to come back to help promote “Responsible and lucrative tourism in Libby.” He is looking forward to once again being a competition judge, working with Paul Bunn and Steve Backus and the other organizers, and enjoying the hospitality and beauty of our town.

“This is a high end competition, and Libby is lucky to have it,” he added. So, this year, look out for Rio Dejarnette with his big blond curls and matching smile. Enjoy the competition, and if you can, try to adopt his fireproof positive outlook.







Continued from page 1: Two Rivers Rendezvous


There is strong and supportive evidence that Thompson’s party thoroughly traveled and explored the area near now Libby, Mont. This is not to say there were no mistakes made in this then uncharted territory.

He Who Looks At The Stars, as the native peoples called him, was bound to make a few errors. Once, they mistakenly turned west along the Rock River (Fisher River) and had to cross the mountains dividing the Fisher and Wolf Creek Drainages. They apparently came back to the Fisher and followed to the Kootenai at the Big Bend.

Thompson’s journal states, “Thank God we came to the river – across the river we saw two canoes & a tent of Indians, upon calling they came & crossed over things & here we found also Forcier & Roberge who informed us Mr. McMillian & canoes were 3 Points below.”

This was likely the site of today’s Blackwell Flats. The Kootenae House fur trading post may well have been three points below, near the present Canoe Gulch (Libby R.S.) location. Evidence was also found that led many to believe either that post or another was located at the mouth of the Rainy Creek and Kootenai River confluence. Concept knives, chipped stone articles, projectile points, flake tools, bone tools, and obsidian, as well as carbon dating evidence suggests a gathering place over times at this spot, and natural canoe landings and slips are available here also. (ACRCS-Rainy Ck.24LN1045)

To get to the site of the July 11-14 Two Rivers Rendezvous at Fawn Creek Campground, from Libby go north on Hwy. 37 along the Kootenai for 14 miles. Just after crossing the Fisher / Kootenai River bridge take a right on Fisher River Road and continue for eight miles. Look for Fawn Creek Campground on your right.

It is a dry camp so bring your own water. Non-potable water is available. Fire bucket, shovel, and ax are required.

Due to fire season requirements, open fires will be restricted. Check with authorities and be prepared to shoot early in the day due to fire restrictions.

For more information, contact Dave Windom at 283-1916 or dwindom@rocketmail.com.  Gary Beal can also be contacted for information at 295-5271 or go.ex@hot mail.com. Two Rivers Rendezvous also has a Facebook page.

Keep in mind the other legendary mountain men that are purportedly explorers and fur trappers of Kootenai Country, Montana including Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, and Jeremiah Johnson. (Additional references Jack Nisbet; Rockman’s Trading Post Inc.).

Come enjoy the Two Rivers Rendezvous, and remember that it only takes a whisper of imagination to be living the history of our area and listening to the drum of the Kootenai peoples.