About 30 yards away, Mentone, Ala., resident Ross Sumner emerges from his camper with a carved wooden walking stick a friend gave him. He stops and chats with Dale Frazier of Ollie who explains his turtle totem and what wild game he'll cook for supper.
The three are staying at the Harrison County Fairgrounds this week, soaking up the sun, the music and the heady feeling you get when you see old friends. They're in town for Missouri Valley's 30th Annual National Old-Time Country and Bluegrass Festival.
It's mostly about the music - a week of 600 national and international country and bluegrass performers entertaining nonstop. But the atmosphere goes beyond the guitar picking, the fiddling and banjo strumming.
He said they've talked him into taking up the guitar.
"I brought it along," he said.
Last year, Frazier even took to the stage. "It was after midnight and hardly anybody was here."
Frazier, like Feller, is a rendezvouser. They put up their teepees, cook wild game and dress in pre-1840 garb. The festival is hosting a group of them, stationed between the main stage and the ring of campers surrounding the fairgrounds.
"This is a little cushy, actually," Frazier said. "Usually there is no running water."
He said they re-create the early prairie settlers' experience.
"I have Scottish ancestors who were trappers and traders," he said. "That's how I got into it."
This is Feller's first year at the Missouri Valley music festival, although he's been at other rendezvous.
"I love it; it's like family. You see the same people at these things and get to know each other," he said.
A pot of coffee is bubbling on Feller's home-made metal stove.
"I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner," he said.
Tonight's menu is buffalo and fried potatoes with onions.
Feller lives in Council Bluffs but his teepee says he's spending the week 25 miles to the north.
"I took the week off," Feller said.
His wife usually accompanies Feller on the rendezvous but she is working this week. "She'll be up later."
Feller doesn't play any musical instruments.
"I couldn't carry a tune in a bushel basket," he said with a laugh. But he loves the camaraderie and the music. "In the evening after all the performances are done, a lot of the musicians congregate and play till 1 in the morning. It's really a laid-back atmosphere."
Sumner walks the camp, taking it all in. This is the 71-year-old's first trip to the music festival, but it probably won't be his last. While he's not part of the teepee crowd, Sumner is reveling in their stories.
"My friend, Verne Bishop, came here last year and performed," Sumner said. "He called and told me it was the best he'd ever been treated in his life and I had to come," he said.
One year and 966 miles later, Sumner and his wife, Joyce, brought their camper to the fairgrounds.
"My heritage is Cherokee, and I sometimes do powwows at schools," Sumner said.
He's heard there are groups who sing and drum at the festival, and Sumner is not averse to joining them.
He hopes to hear his friend Verne play and wants to see Tommy Cash, Don Acuff and Norma Jean during the week. "I grew up during a lot of these people's careers."
Sumner and his wife will cook most of their meals in the camper but he's already checked out the food vendors and said they'll catch a few meals there. Those food aromas are part of the atmosphere, too.
Frazier's teepee has a turtle painted on one side. "It's my totem," he said. "I have this recurring dream about an albino turtle, so I decided to make it my totem."
Animal pelts and a turtle shell decorated with pins hang from Frazier's canvas overhang. "These are from the different rendezvous I've been to."
All three of the music-loving travelers will call the fairgrounds home this week. The music ends Sunday and that's the day they plan to pack their wares and take to the road.
The National Old-Time Music Festival runs day and night through Sunday at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Missouri Valley. Cost is $14 per day, $10 for those over 70 and under 18. Children under 14 admitted free. A seven-day pass can be purchased for $45.