GREENFIELD — Jim Cinkoske earned his camp name several years ago when he and other members of the Blue River Longrifles were putting new siding on their Morristown clubhouse. They pulled off the old material only to discover 14 skunks hidden underneath.
One wrong move, they knew, and they’d smell it for days.
“You get your camp name when you do something stupid or outstanding,” Cinkoske explained, and it’s anybody’s guess how to characterize what happened next.
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He grabbed 12 of the surprised skunks by the tails — so they couldn’t spray — and tossed them in a bucket to get them out of the way.
Cinkoske — or Skunk Catcher as it now reads on his business card — is a member of Blue River Longrifles, the local chapter of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, an organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of muzzle-loading through trade shows, educational displays and living history encampments, also known as rendezvous.
Nov. 5-6, the Blue River Longrifles will host the fifth annual Indoor Trade Show, one of more than 30 Indiana events attended by its members.
It’s a time when people like Cinkoske dress in period costume, go by their camp names and spread their love of American history and vintage weaponry.
The trade show features more than 60 tables of vendors selling all manner of gear and regalia for those interested in muzzle-loading, pioneer living or historical re-enactment. Items for sale at the two-day show include leather, knives, jewelry, clothing, books, wooden furniture and antique guns. Lunch food and other concessions will also be available at the show.
Donlyn Meyers, owner of the Smoke & Fire Trading Company, a Toledo, Ohio-based mail-order house that sells supplies for re-enactors, will set up shop at the Blue River Longrifles Trade Show for the 15th year in a row.
Meyers, a 1972 graduate of Greenfield-Central High School, looks forward to the camaraderie of the annual Hancock County show. Like many exhibitors, she embodies the time period of some of her wares; her trade show costume is straight out of the French and Indian War.
Meyers’ table will feature a selection of authentic sewing patterns from the mid-1700s through the 19th century and a selection of history books for researching the details of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century life in America.
Cinkoske’s interest in muzzle-loaders and flintlocks began in 1975 when he attended the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association’s Spring Shoot, held annually at the national headquarters in Friendship, Indiana.
“I looked around, and I said, ‘Boy, this would be fun to get into.’ I just fell in love with it,” Cinkoske said.
At 69 years old, Cinkoske attends an average of six events a year, and he makes the most of every visit. Five years ago, he purchased a 12-by-12 wedge tent made from the traditional white canvas often seen at many rendezvous camps. His collection of historical attire includes one pair of pants and a number of shirts and tunics from a variety of time periods. Sometimes, Cinkoske dresses as an 1840s fur trader; others, he’s a French voyageur.
Handheld flintlock rifles like the muzzle-loader Cinkoske uses came into use in the mid-1700s, he said. Firing one requires black powder, poured from a powder horn into the barrel — or muzzle — of the gun, followed by the ball — the bullet — wrapped in a piece of cloth or wadding. The flint of the rifle then ignites the cloth and the powder, and the rifle fires. The entire process can take at least 30 seconds to complete for each shot, even for a seasoned shooter.
Cinkoske had feared societal interest in muzzle-loaders and flintlock rifles was dying out, yet attendance has increased over the past five years at the trade show, with 400 attending last year over 300 the year before, he said. Cinkoske wants to break another trade show attendance record this year and is hopeful the local chapter gains new members as well.
What: The Blue River Longrifle annual indoor trade show
When: Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds, 600 N. Apple St.
Admission is $4; children under 12 are admitted free