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Rugged Rendezvous 

Got what it takes to be a mountain man? Head to the Lake of the Ozarks, tough guy.

Next time you want to beat the white-truffle oil out of that jerk whose "Pour Some Sugar on Me" ringtone provides the soundtrack to what you thought would be a romantic dinner for two, take a deep breath and be glad it's 2005, not 1805. Back then, as you and your sweetie looked longingly at each other over your roasted muskrat, you might have been distracted by an anvil shot dozens of feet into the sky to announce that it was time to put down the muskrat and head for the hills: Trouble was on the way.

Just how distracting is an anvil shot? Think about a sonic boom heard through noise-killing headphones. Think Motörhead in an echo chamber. Or just head to the Osage River Mountain Man Festival & Rendezvous Friday through Sunday, September 16 through 18, to see -- and hear -- for yourself as Gay Wilkinson, former World Anvil Shooting Champion, showcases his talent twice a day.

Of course, there's more to the festival than exploding anvils: There are contests for knife-throwing and fire-starting, crafts, folk art and souvenirs. Also, historical re-enactors demonstrate how what is now the land surrounding, um, Party Cove was probably once home to traders, trappers and others who stayed behind after Lewis & Clark had struck out farther west. Plus, for those whose historical re-enactment experience isn't complete without a chance to jeer the French -- and for those who honor the role the French played in the development of America -- on Saturday and Sunday, the French Colonial Artillery drills.

The Mountain Man Festival is held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion Campground at the foot of Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks (www.funlake.com). Adults pay $5 for admission to all three days of the festival; children twelve and younger are free with a paid adult admission. For more information call the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at 800-451-4117.

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