Pioneers celebrate centennial picnic | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — The Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association is still kicking up its heels after 100 years, celebrating its centennial reunion and “Pioneer Picnic” on Sunday, Aug. 19, in the Pioneer Hall.

The annual picnic is a tradition now maintained by the second- and third-generation descendants of the original pioneer families who first gathered in a grove of trees on the Schloman farm for the event.

“It got rained out and was held in the A.O.U.W. Hall instead, though,” Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association President Myrtle Rausch said.

The presence of politicians and other dignitaries from throughout Washington state pushed the attendance numbers for those early picnics into the hundreds.

“The picnic in 1914 hosted 800,” Rausch said.

Just as previous years of the picnic afforded attendees annual opportunities to catch up with old friends and their accomplishments, mainly in the fields of farming and logging early on, so did this year’s centennial picnic summarize the achievements of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association as a whole, which has dedicated itself to upholding the legacy and contributions of their forebears to the development of the Stillaguamish Valley.

Not only did attendees receive a presentation of a book that’s compiled a pictorial review of the Valley’s history from 1912-2012, but they also got to check out the artifacts preserved in the Pioneer Museum.

In between the potluck lunch and the Association’s annual meeting and program, the latter of which included elections of officers for the Association, a number of Association members dressed in pun-themed costumes for a short skit poking fun at the Midwestern heritage that many pioneers share, after which Rausch and local historian Loren Kraetz touched upon a few red-letter dates in the Association’s history.

“In 1916, the picnic moved to Nancy Birkenmeier’s land,” Rausch said. “In 1924, we held it at the Pioneer Hall. In 1934, the old stump was moved from downtown Arlington to here, and most of the trees you see outside the Hall were planted between 1945-53.”

More recently, the Association opened its Pioneer Museum in 1988, established its veterans memorial outside of Pioneer Hall in 2000, and completed its historically accurate model railroad of Darrington in 2005.

Along the way, Rausch and Kraetz recalled how Kent Prairie Elementary became the first school in Arlington, “which I believe taught more Native than white children at first,” according to Rausch, and the Grimm farm acquired the first milking machine in Snohomish County.

After Carl Moll led a moment of silence for the Association’s departed members, Dick Prouty presented Myrtle and Marty Rausch with a framed sign to honor the Association’s 100 years, as well as the hard work of all the volunteers who keep it running.

Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert continued the annual tradition of delivering a State of the City address to the Association, acknowledging thecity’s $700,000 budget deficit for next year due to declines in sales tax revenues, while at the same time pointing to recent growth in the local industrial and manufacturing sector.

“If I ever say we need to do more with less, please slap me,” Tolbert said. “Nobody can do more with less. You only do less with less. We’re looking at what we do and how we do it, to try and make it more efficient.”

To that end, Tolbert cited former Mayor Margaret Larson’s praise of volunteerism by crediting volunteers such as the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association with improving the community’s quality of life and making it more attractive to new residents and businesses alike.

The meeting wrapped up with the recognition of the 99-year-old Helen Starr as the oldest native-born woman in the Stillaguamish Valley, 91-year-old Dan Grewe as the oldest native-born man, and 68-years-married Sylvia and J.Y. Dycus as the longest-married couple with one born in the Valley.

“We can always use more volunteers,” said Myrtle Rausch, who noted that the Pioneer Museum served 620 visitors over the past year and approximately 20,500 since its doors opened.

The Pioneer Hall and Museum are located at 20722 67th Ave. NE in Arlington.


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