TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2014 • PAGE 3
More than 400 gather for 78th annual Pioneer Society Banquet
By Natalie Storey
Enterprise Staff Writer
When Ruth MacDonald was a girl, she watched the ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest clothes lining up outside the old Civic Center for the Park County Pioneer Society Banquet.Back then, Mac-Donald lived with her family, whose members have been in Park County since 1920, near Sacaja-wea Park. The banquet was the social event of the spring, she said, and it seemed to her like she would never be old enough to attend.But at this year’s banquet, MacDon-ald, who will soon be 84, occupied a seat front and center. For the occasion, she wore a beautiful white lace blouse, with a pleated black and white skirt and a black blazer. Although the dress code has shifted to more informal clothes, MacDonald said she still wor-ried about what to wear to the banquet.“I tried on dresses all afternoon and finally decided on this,” she said.
Fashion changes, history remains
Others agreed that the fashion at the Pioneer Society Banquet has changed with the times, just like many other parts of life in Park County. A 1969 edition of The Enterprise called the event a “Gala Affair” and included pic-tures of ladies in long, flowing dresses and men and women wearing real cor-sages and boutonnieres. But members of the Pioneer Society still hold fast to history — many people in attendance at the 78th annual ban-quet at the fairgrounds Saturday night effortlessly recited the stories of how their families first came to Park Coun-ty, many of them more than 100 years ago. Despite today’s relaxed dress code, there were plenty of neckerchiefs, bolo ties and long skirts and dresses on display.“It’s gotten way more lax,” said out-going President Bob Peterson of the dress code. “Men used to come in a coat and tie and the women wore for-mal dresses. This was the ball.”Sandy Erickson, who wore a sparkly black cowboy hat, described her outfit as “a little bling with a little western added.” She also wore a large silver necklace with the head of a steer, a horseshoe and rhinestones. She said she got the necklace in Las Vegas.Robert Skillman looked smart in his American Legion cap and a teal and green flowered western shirt. He also wore a teal neckerchief, held in place by a pin with a bucking horse and pin rhinestones he said he salvaged from a bridle.Ginny O’Hair, who wore slacks and a long, colorful shirt, said she was glad people didn’t get quite so dressed up any more for the banquet because, “I wouldn’t have anything to wear!” “We used to have fancy dresses,” she said. “Everybody had to have new dresses every year.”
Food, fun and remembrances
More than 400 guests attended the Pioneer Society Banquet, held at the fairgrounds. The night featured roast beef and potatoes, dancing to the music of the Crazy Mountain Express and the unveiling of outgoing presi-dent Bob Peterson’s portrait. Three generations of O’Hairs served guests. Shields Valley resident Larry Lovely was elected as the new president of the society. He was the only candidate for president on the ballot.“This is one election I might not loose,” Lovely quipped. Bill Harris was elected as vice presi-dent, while Lou Ann Skattum will con-tinue as secretary treasurer. Pearl D’Ewart, Dester Miller, Ernest Briggs and Mary Strong are honorary presi-dents. The names of deceased members of the society were also read during the banquet. They included W.L. “Bart” Bartlett, Helen Chapman, Virgil Dur-gan, Eunice Ebert, Joe Gaab, Carl Hae-mig, Mary “Mollie” Hancock, Dorothy Malcolm, John Melin, Anne Mikovich, Clifford Miller, Dale Munro, Gladys Nelson, Pearl Brown Ostrum, Gloria Pierce, Roberta Pugliano, Donna Rags-dale, Emil Ricci, Mickey Shorthill, Jo Sykes, Agnes Vink and Doris Whithorn.
Enterprise photos by Justin Post
Lois Olmstead, right, covers her heart during the Retiring of the Colors ceremony conducted by the American Legion Color Guard at the Park County Pioneer Society Banquet held at the fairgrounds Saturday evening.Jim and Bonnie Francis, of Paradise Valley, dance as Crazy Mountain Express plays during the entertain-ment portion of the banquet.