Havre Daily News - News you can use

Hi-Line Living: Joplin's day to shine


Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

The day began with a run commemorating a local boy who died in a motorcycle crash years ago and ended with hours-long snowmobile races made possible by slightly inebriated drivers in costumes going really fast.

Crammed In between was food, songs, crafts, games and hot wheels with models spanning almost 100 years of production.

The 150-person Hi-Line town of Joplin hosted its fifth annual Joplin Montana Car Show and Art in the Park Saturday.

A sign welcoming people into Joplin boasts the town is the "biggest little town on earth." Saturday's event exponentially ballooned the town's declared 150-person population.

"It's Joplin's day to shine," said Shay Richter, coordinator of the final event of the day, the Juvat Sled Jam.

The 1- and 3-mile races of Dawson's Run began at 10 a.m. An estimated 300 people had registered to run and walk in the races, coordinators said.

Dawson Fraser of Joplin died Sept. 3, 2011, in a motorcycle crash. He would have been 13 this year, said his mother, Jada Fraser, who helps coordinate the annual race. Dawson's two sisters, Kayonna and Abby, were among the many who ran the race.

Every year, Jada said, more people come out and the event grows. This year, friends and family had come from Wyoming, Washington and Belt to take part. Friends and family come together to organize the run, make T-shirts and spread the word.

While the large turnout is great, Jada added, it's also bittersweet, for obvious reasons.

She said Dawson was active - he loved fishing and he was a wrestler.

"He was happy, always smiling," she said. "He was amazing, and I think that's why so many people came out."

Dawson also liked to play practical jokes and was playfully antagonistic, she added. He was a Bobcat fan, a contrast to everyone else in the family, who are Griz fans, Jada said.

The car show was set up and people were walking by and admiring the cars.

Ken Wolery, a Joplin native, and friend Todd Luedt dragged a trailer carrying a 1929 purple Ford pickup truck, a 1979 Lincoln Coupe, and three motorcycles from Billings for the Joplin Car Show.

Even at car shows, Wolery said, his purple pickup is "very unique." A roomful of trophies proves others share his appreciation for the '29 pickup, he said.

Wolery said he didn't know he wanted that pickup until he saw it on eBay one day. When he saw it, he went to Tennessee to buy it.

Luedt, who is not a native Hi-Liner, was enjoying the atmosphere.

"It's nice out here," he said.

Wolery had showed his friend around. The two took a game trail that leads to Canada and made it so they were in two countries at the same time.

Marvin Bender of Havre brought a 1974 Ford F250 to the show. Although it didn't have the shine and gloss of the other cars in the show, the black truck with the cracked windshield meant something to Bender that no other cars there could. The truck used to belong to his father, who died, Bender said.

"It's been a little more than four years since my dad passed," Bender said. "One day after my birthday."

Bender said he has since put some serious work into the pickup, among the changes is a powerful engine.

"He'd be proud," Bender said.

Gary and Kathy Glock of Havre were among the many vendors spread on the grounds. They are in the knife and sword business. This was their first time at the Joplin event, and Kathy said they left the swords home that day but hoped to sell some knives. Kathy said she hoped sales would improve. At the time, they'd only sold two knives, she said.

Ellen Russell of Chester was selling homemade vegetarian-style soaps, something that started out as a hobby and eventually evolved into a full time enterprise, she said.

"I'm doing really well and I enjoy making it," she said.

People like homemade products, and they especially like things without chemicals, Russell said.

Jody Martin came from Shelby to sell his custom knives. Although his blades weren't exactly cutting through with the crowd, his business is, he said.

Martin said his business started with a hunting trip more than two decades ago.

He and a friend were hunting in North Fork in 1995 and his friend shot a moose, he said. When it was time to gut the animal, neither of the men had a knife sharp enough to slice through the animal's tough hide. That's when, Martin said, he walked over to his pickup to retrieve a knife he had made.

The results were so impressive that his friend asked that he make him one. Thus Montana Martin Knives began. It started as a side business, but it grew to a point where the then-oil man took to it full time to meet the demand for his knives.

The park gazebo strategically lay in the middle of all the action, and music poured out of it all day Saturday.

One of the acts, a barbershop quartet made of three brothers and a friend, was a crowd favorite. Kevin, Chris and Jeff Mattson and Steve Adams serenaded the crowd with a cappella pop favorites throughout the day. People sat on the surrounding chairs and benches and listened intently as the four harmoniously sang.

Chris Mattson, who is from Chester, praised the event during a break after a 30-minute set.

"This is awesome - bringing out the community, seeing all these old cars," Mattson said.

The community certainly came out. Other happenings included face painting for children, a laser tag room, a manual merry-go-round that never seemed to be void of laughing, smiling children, and even a pie sale put on by the Joplin Lutheran Church.

The day started out with 50, mostly home-baked, pies. Coordinator Merlene Zentis of Inverness said she expected all the pies to be sold by the end of the day. The proceeds, she said, would go to medical needs for the community.

The continuous flow of people ensured bathroom lines remained long most of the day, and some people took advantage of the wait time to get to know each other and discuss a subject that will always be brought up wherever two or more Montanans gather - the weather.

While the sky was mostly clear blue peppered with fluffy white clouds, a few dark streaks could be spotted in the distance and the threat of rain was on the lips of some. One man, a local farmer, said it would take a lot for him be concerned about too much rain.

"When you see my house floating by, that's when it's too much," he said.

"I just felt a drop," the man next to him said.

By 4 p.m., vendors started clearing out, car enthusiasts and their cars began driving away, the pies and hamburgers had been eaten, and most were trekking northward to the Bulldog football field where the Juvat Sled Jam, was set to begin.

People began parking their pickup trucks with the beds facing the west side of the field. And many of them staked foldout chairs in the bed, opened cold beverages and began to get confortable. A continuous medley of AC/DC songs blared out of two speakers hanging on the announcer's tower as the organizers and participants zoomed onto the field one by one.

Richter, the organizer for the Sled Jam, explained how the event was going to go.

"We're just ready to have a good time. Everybody's been waiting," he said. "We're gonna go through the drag races, then we're gonna line up eight sleds and we're going to go down and back. Then we'll take the top four from each heat, then we're going to sell those sleds - half will go to charity, half will go to the buyer of the team - and then we'll come back and do the championship relay. The relays are a blast. That will be about 2 hours after the drags."

Richter and friends got together about five years ago and came up with the idea of the Sled Jam because it seemed like a good reason to ride snowmobiles in the summer and a good excuse to do something. The snowmobiles in the sled jam were all pre-1980s sleds.

Part of the fun has been reviving the old Joplin-Inverness rivalry, before the schools consolidated. Richter said he'd like to take the event down the Hi-Line.

The rain that had been talked about during the day finally started to come down about 4:15 p.m. as Richter was talking.

"The rain could make it a little bit slippery," he said.

But he wasn't worried.

"It's rained before right in the middle and it doesn't really affect us. Usually, the beer's taken over by that point, so it doesn't bother us too much and it don't bother the fans."

The rain stopped after about five minutes.

Richter soon got into his costume, a large T-Rex whose head reached high above his own. He and teammate, and fellow T-rex costume wearer, Cody Jurenka made up the T-Rex Express.

Despite Richter's innovative suit, it was last year's costume winners, Cory Decker of Chester and Riley Smith of Joplin, who, again, would have the crowd-favorite costumes.

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

Decker and Smith had dressed in purple Hutterite female clothing and formed team Hoot 'n' Holler. With helmets under the traditional head covering and Twisted Teas in their other hand, the two walked across the field and to their snowmobiles, which had been dressed up to look like a yellow school bus.

Decker said the costume idea was the result of a lot of ruminating.

"I've been thinking a lot. I do a lot of driving, do a lot of thinking. We've won best costumes last three years," he said.  

Before the sleds were about to start zipping across the grass, it was time for the national anthem.

Zeb Engstrom, the announcer, took to  playing the national anthem by emulating a trumpet vocally and played the entire song that way.

Then the races began.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017