2002.11.06 A festive life ahead

Written by David Green.


This seems to be the time of year when I think about Morenci’s Town and Country Festival and how it needs some spicing up. You can’t let it get stale; you have to think about new events and maybe a little zaniness.

Town and Country? That doesn’t say much. Maybe the entire festival could be transformed into the Quillback Carpsucker Festival or Heatstroke Days. Something that engenders some new ideas.

Let’s turn toward Roslyn, Wash., where festivals occur week after week. I know little about the town, other than what I’ve read in a couple months worth of the North Kittitas County Tribune, the weekly newspaper from Cle Elum that also serves Roslyn.

Early July featured the Croatian Picnic with lots of sauerkraut, polish sausage and polka music. I think we have a dearth of Croats in Morenci and probably a dearth of most any ethnic group such as that.

We have quite a few Sand Creek people living in town, but I don’t even know what they eat up there. The Sand Creek Picnic might not make the best excuse for a festival.

A  little later in July comes Roslyn’s Pioneer Rendezvous. Visitors pan for gold and watch how a saddle is made. Better rest up for that one. It’s not exactly zany, but there’s more to do: people also watch wood burn.

According to the newspaper story, this is apparently the first time many culturally deprived people have the chance to sit around a campfire. “That’s what it’s all about,” said organizer Bill Reagan.

Studying combustion isn’t really what I had in mind, either.

That’s not the oddest part of the Rendezvous. Every year the police sergeant goes out on the Interstate, stops a car and makes the occupants come back to town for all-you-can-eat breakfast. It’s called the Breakfast Kidnap.

The headline on this year’s story read “Army Sergeant Held Hostage by Police Sergeant.” It doesn’t matter if you just had breakfast before you headed out onto the Interstate; you’re coming to town and you’re going to eat a lot to show the nice policeman that you’re honored.

I suppose we could send a local cop down to the Interstate at Wauseon and make someone drive 14 miles out of their way to eat a chicken barbecue dinner. Should we give it to them for free?

Roslyn used to have the Manly Man Festival but it moved to Ronald. I don’t know anything about Manly Man. I only know that council member Jeri Porter is tired of hearing comments about how Roslyn lost the festival.

There’s also the Coal Miners’ Festival with the crowning of King Coal, the kids’ coal sack race, polka music, of course, and the 16 Ton Coal Shoveling Contest.

Now there’s something we might adopt. We never had coal miners around here, but we have farmers who shovel some kind of stuff around. That could be turned into a weekend event, but what could you call it? Manure Days just doesn’t make it.

These festivals are just warm-ups. Roslyn’s big event is Moose Days. Now we’re talking zany. The Parade of the Dead. The Running of the Bulls (people in boxer shorts). Sons of the Tundra Ice Breaker. Bus tours of the town.

There’s a reason for all of this. Roslyn is where the Northern Exposure television show was shot. People from around the world come to celebrate Moose Days at Roslyn, including dozens of people who appeared on the show through the years.

We have no big name connection to match that, but we do have a convenient bridge. Travel across the country to Fayetteville, W. Virg., where Bridge Day is back. Liz Stella brought the newspaper back to show me what it’s all about.

Since 1980, people have jumped off the 876-foot high New River Gorge Bridge—the world’s longest steel arch bridge—just for entertainment. They use a parachute, by the way. There were only eight injuries this year, and only four required hospitalization.

Maybe this is the direction we should follow. Bridge Jump Day. Icarus Days. Into the Bean Days. Off the Top Festival. We have the bridge and we probably have the fools willing to jump.

I’m certain we could keep our injury total pretty close to eight.

    – Nov. 6, 2002 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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