Pioneer spirit on display at Cascade Mountain Men’s show

MONROE — They came from four Western states and a variety of backgrounds.

Yet they had something in common, these people dressed in colonial and pioneer costumes at the Cascade Mountain Men’s show Saturday and Sunday at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds.

They love history, they share conservative philosophies and they revere self-sufficiency, most said.

“These folks wish they could have lived in an earlier era,” said artist and seamstress Susan Gruner, 61, of Snohomish. “They might have shown what they could make of themselves back then. For me, it’s about getting back to my roots and living as my grandmother did when she moved to Eastern Washington from France.”

Founded in mid-1960s by Seattle rifle maker Ted Fellowes, the Issaquah-based Cascade Mountain Men group is nearing its 50th year. Its annual show in Monroe has become a big event, said group spokesman Steve Baima of Bellevue.

Baima, 65, a retired Renton firefighter, also is a member of the Washington Historical Gun Makers Guild. The muzzle-loading firearms display and pioneer craft show was packed most of the weekend, Baima said, with historical re-enactors using the gathering as a social event and a place to trade.

Many of those at the show were dressed as mountain men, settlers and trappers on their way to a rendezvous to buy supplies and sell animal pelts.

Bothell’s Bob Austin, 60, who works in fire management for the Boeing Co., at Paine Field, got started with Cascade Mountain Men because he enjoyed shooting a black powder rifle.

“I shot at a target and hit it, and, well, that was it,” Austin said. “I was hooked. It’s about learning how people used to do things and then living that experience.”

The fairground’s event center was filled with people who displayed and sold muzzle loader rifles, knives, bows and arrows, leather pouches, fur hats, Hudson’s Bay blankets, linen and muslin shirts, beads, elk horn buttons, pewter mugs, moccasins and lots of history books.

People in costume had their photos taken next to a tepee set up in the middle of the floor.

Nearby, Bill Gruner and his wife, Susan, of Snohomish displayed her clothing and his metal forge work. Susan Gruner outfits the people who serve aboard the state’s tallship, the schooner Lady Washington, and sells her work around the country.

Bill Gruner, 70, who retired as a middle school teacher in Union Gap, said it feels good to be a part of the mountain men gatherings.

“Modern life is flat; it’s mundane,” Gruner said. “Re-enactors have a rich life. We study people in history and take on those personas. It’s about pride in our accomplishments, in learning to do the crafts people practiced to survive.”

Gale Fiege: 425-3392427;

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

Two Washington State ferries pass along the route between Mukilteo and Clinton as scuba divers swim near the shore Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ferry shuffle: Mukilteo, Edmonds riders can expect ‘loading delays’

For four weeks, Mukilteo sailings will be reduced by 34 cars and Edmonds by 20 cars, in boat swap due to ferry maintenance.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Freeland massage therapist charged with sex crimes

The judge set bail at $7,500 for the health care provider, who was accused of sexually assaulting two clients last year.

Suspected DUI crash injures trooper on I-5 north in Lynnwood

WSP spokesperson said two suspected impaired drivers have crashed into a state trooper in the past 24 hours.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

State Trooper Isaiah Oliver speaks to a BNSF worker at mile marker 31.7 as road closures and evacuations mount in response to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
As wildfires creep west of Cascades, county plans for next Bolt Creek

Wildfires are an increasing concern in Snohomish County. A new project aims to develop a better plan.

Everett High seniors, from left, Avery Thompson, Lanie Thompson, Melissa Rosales-Alfaro and Saron Mulugeta sit together in front of their school on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Everett, Washington. The group have called to question their district’s policy that does not permit graduates to decorate their mortarboards or graduation clothing. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
After student campaign, Everett schools allows custom graduation caps

“It’s a really good first step,” the Everett High School ASB president said. But the students still want relaxed rules for future classes.

People hang up hearts with messages about saving the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Future of historic Clark Park gazebo now in hands of City Council

On June 5, the Everett council is set to decide whether to fund removal of the gazebo. It could be stored elsewhere.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.