Rendezvous starts with a bang |

Rendezvous starts with a bang

Dave Frank
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Stephen Moore’s homemade cannon recoils and throws a boom of thunder through Mills Park.

He and his friend Bill Sjovangen grin at each other and remove orange earplugs.

Moore of Reno and Sjovangen of Virginia City have been firing blank powder cartridges at the Carson City Rendezvous since it started in 1984. They say they’ve just always loved explosives.

“I’m a 64-year-old kid,” Moore said Friday. “I get to play cowboys and Indians.”

The two men and Moore’s son, Aaron, were firing their two early-American-style cannons in a roped-off field before the annual weekend living history festival even started at noon Friday. They were dressed as 19th-century fur traders with satchels, wide-brimmed hats and knives in their belts.

The festival draws about 25,000 visitors and 250 participants a year, according the festival manager, Arlington Group Events. People dressed in period Civil War, Pony Express, Old West and American Indian clothing perform and sell historic items.

Nevada is a great place for a homemade historic cannon maker, Sjovangen said. They usually can find a dry lake bed or empty bombing range to fire real cannon balls at targets more than 3,000 feet away, he said.

“It’s great when you hit a target a couple of times in a row,” Sjovangen said. “Thump, thump, thump.”

Aaron Moore said he inherited the love of homemade historic cannons from his father and Sjovangen.

He said he couldn’t escape it.

“I like to see things burn,” he said. “I guess it’s a legal way to be a pyromaniac.”

Stephen Moore said sometimes people give him strange looks when they see him hauling a cannon down the road. But most people like the cannons, he said.

“It’s so much more cool to be driving around with one of these behind your truck than a trailer full of snowmobiles and motorcycles,” he said. “It’s got a different feel to it.”