Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Pioneer Days started with a slow attendance of about 60 people who enjoyed the music but after the music was over at around 11 a.m. some late arrivals and senior citizens from the Heartland Care Center nursing home brought that number up over 100 people.
Joy Gardner, president of the Pioneer Association, helped host Pioneer Days . During each celebration the Pioneer of the Year Award goes out to one man and one woman who has helped with the fair through their many years of living in Roosevelt County.
Gardner said a Pioneer Association committee selects the winners each year. This year, however, the committee chose to recognize many Roosevelt County residents as honorary pioneers of the year.
“We decided we were going to involve more people,” Charlene Foster of the Pioneer Association said. “We’re going to do this by groups.”
Foster first recognized the people in attendance who were previous winners of the Pioneer of the Year Award. She then recognized the senior citizens who lived in Roosevelt County moved away then came back. Foster finally recognized the senior citizens who were born in Roosevelt County and still live here.
“I do proclaim on this day that the lord had made, everyone in attendance will be known as honorary Pioneers of the Year for 2005,” Foster said.
Tommie Bennett falls under the category of being born in Roosevelt County and living all of the 84 years of her life in Roosevelt County. Bennett said she still lives in the same house four miles outside of Causey where she was born.
“We always participated in the fair,” Bennett said. “All of my kids showed livestock. What I remember of the fair was when I was 10 years old I won the milking contest.”
Bennett said she was in the first graduating class of Causey High School, which no longer exists.
Rowena Crume-Preuit, last year’s Pioneer of the Year winner, was present for this year’s Pioneer Days celebration. Preuit said her father taught Elida and Kenna children at the Kenna School, which no longer exists. She also has fond memories of the fair during her younger days.
“I remember going to one fair in Elida,” Preuit said, remembering a time when Roosevelt County’s smaller farming communities had their own fairs. “My family took a big squash and entered it in contest. We won a ribbon for it.”
The pioneers took the time through a memorial to remember Roosevelt County pioneers who have passed away since Pioneers Day in 2004, such as Hank Merrick, Jimmy “Bo” Chunn, and Odis and Doris Newman.