ARLINGTON — Even after celebrating their centennial last year and coping with traffic congestion caused by construction this year, the members of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association are still in the mood to kick up their heels.
The Association is celebrating its 101st "Pioneer Picnic" on the third Sunday of the month, Aug. 18, in the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Hall, located at 20722 67th Ave. NE in Arlington.
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. The presence of politicians and other dignitaries from throughout Washington state pushed the attendance numbers for those early picnics into the hundreds.
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 will this year's picnic summarize the achievements of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association as a whole, whose members have dedicated themselves to upholding the legacy of their forebears, who contributed so much to the development of the Stillaguamish Valley.
"This picnic is pretty consistent, year in and year out," Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association President Myrtle Rausch said. "The biggest change this year is the narrow entryway from the road, because of the construction on 67th Avenue, but even that hasn't stopped people from finding us. We've been getting good-sized tour groups to the Pioneer Museum lately, so those big blue signs that the city put out on the street must be working," she laughed.
Although Helen Starr was recognized at last year's picnic as the oldest native-born woman, she's since passed away, only three months after turning 100. While Rausch was uncertain who would be recognized as the oldest native-born man at this year's picnic, she felt confident that 69-years-married Sylvia and J.Y. Dycus would again be named the longest-married couple with one born in the Valley.
"They're pretty hard to beat, with that many years between them," Rausch said. "Ruth and Harry Yost used to be right behind them, by just a few months, but we've lost a few of our members. I understand why we don't have more younger members, since they're still working, but it makes it harder for us to do certain things, when so many of our members are in their 80s now."
Registration for the picnic starts at 10 a.m. that Sunday and is set to be followed by a potluck lunch at 12:30 p.m., after which the Association will conduct its annual meeting and program, the latter of which includes elections of officers for the Association, along with a report of the state of the city that's set to be delivered by Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert.
"This will be her second year delivering that address to us," Rausch said. "I just love to meet with people and hear their stories about how we used to do things. They have better stories than I do."
The Association welcomes all attendees, regardless of whether they're descended from pioneers or not, but does ask its guests to bring their own dinnerware and favorite pot lock dishes to share.
You may call 360-435-7289 to RSVP for this event.