Havre Daily News
The population of Big Sandy will almost double this weekend, as more than 700 out-of-town visitors are expected to flood the town for the 2005 Big Sandy Homecoming.
This year's homecoming theme is the Pioneer Prairie Dryland Cruise and will feature a 32-foot flatbed truck that's been transformed into Main Street's only cruise ship. Cinda Pearson, one-half of one of the four married couples picked to plan the event, said the cruise ship theme sounded good, but because of past years' Hi-Line weather, a qualifier in the name was needed.
"After this many years of drought, we thought we better throw the 'dryland' in," she said.
The Big Sandy Homecoming is held once every five years, and former students of all classes are invited back to the town where they spent their high school years. The planning committee has already received 897 registrations, a number they expect to grow to somewhere between 1,200 and 1,300 by Saturday morning, Pearson said.
Only about 500 of the participants live in the town, Cinda said, and the rest are traveling here just for the event.
"About 700 of them will be coming from out of town," she said. "They'll kind of be busting the seams on us."
The festivities were scheduled to start at 10 a.m today, with an Antique Tractor Pull and Show held at the Gun Club located north of town on U.S. Highway 87. At 1 p.m., workers will be registering those coming for the event at the Big Sandy High School gymnasium annex until 5 p.m., when the ship's horn will blow and the Bon Voyage party begins on Main Street. The street will be closed to traffic for the weekend, Pearson said. The party will include a root beer social sponsored by the Big Sandy Rotary Club, and a penny and nickel carnival, which has old-fashioned games with candy prizes for kids. It will culminate with the crowning of the high school royalty.
The royalty has been picked by the classmates in the five years since the previous homecoming. Two students from each class have been chosen as representatives. Nora Grubb, one of the homecoming planners, said because Big Sandy doesn't have a homecoming for students while they're in high school, this tradition is the only time recent graduates have a chance to be king or queen.
At 8 p.m. today, the Big Sandy Chamber of Commerce is holding an auction of handmade chairs donated by local artisans to raise proceeds for the Big Sandy makeover project, which will restore two blocks of downtown with a Wild West theme. The auction, which raised more than $2,000 last year, has 12 chairs on the block this weekend. Last year, an antique stool from the Mint Bar went for $450.
Chamber member Marlys Bitz said most of the chairs have a history to them. This year's offerings include a cheap office chair completely refinished with a metalwork bottom, athree-seater bench with a back made out of other chairs, and other painted and pieced together local works of well-seated art.
"We have so many artists in Big Sandy that it really blows you away for a small community," Bitz said. "They're very artistic and really well done."
The night will finish out a music trivia contest and a dance.
The fun continues on Saturday with the Montana Pilot Association's Fly-in and breakfast. In addition to the food, children ages 8-16 will be offered free rides in a plane by the Fly-in's crew from 9 until 10:30 a.m.
From 8 to 8:30 a.m., sign-up for the Fun Run will be happening, with the race starting at 9 a.m. in the City Park.
The Brenda Yirsa art show will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., where prints depicting the Missouri River, Decision Point, and the Big Sandy water tower will be for sale. At 10 a.m., the Class of 2008 is putting on a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and the Class of 2009 will have laser tag, skittle ball, and a dunking booth.
The Pioneer Prairie Parade begins at 1 p.m at the old football field.
From 4 to 6:30 p.m., a Grand Buffet Banquet will be held at the Fire Hall, which will be followed by the Pioneer Prairie Extravaganza at the high school gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. The extravaganza is a presentation put together by homecoming planners that will take the viewer back in time through Big Sandy's long history.
"We asked that people give us pictures from the past, or when they were in school," Grubb said about how the planners gathered the show's wealth of photographs. "We have pictures from the 1920s all the way up to the 2000s."
Both of Big Sandy's oldest living alumni will be attending the homecoming, Grubb said, and will be honored at the show. Emma Kinoren, who may be more familiar to her 1929 Big Sandy classmates as Emma Pokorney, will be 93 years old in July and made the trip from Denver. Current Big Sandy resident William Larson, Class of 1931, will also be there.
After the extravaganza, the crowd will make its way over to Main Street, where live band Sax Cadillac will provide the tunes for the weekend's final street dance. The dancing starts at 9:30 p.m.
Local churches will be providing services at different times Sunday morning, with a barbecue buffet happening afterward at the Fire Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A Ranch Rodeo that promises both crowd participation and more food will start at 1 p.m.
The festivities will wrap up, until 2010, with individual class reunions in the afternoon. For exact times and locations, alumni should check with the registration desk.