September 4, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 361

So Much Fun: Saco Celebrates Festival's 50th Year

An estimated 250 people crowded into Saco last weekend for the 50th observance of Saco Fun Days. Lots of people came for the All-Class Reunion and the numbers were helped by fine weather. The celebration offered street dances, a parade, kids’ games, a demolition derby, a pie social, a sock hop and many dinners, barbecues and feeds.

Samar Fay / The Courier
The tables next to the fire hall were full on Saturday as people ate the free beef barbecue lunch provided at Saco Fun Days.

Ron Hanson was one of the 15 members of the class of 1960. He retired from the ranch to Billings until he became a snowbird and now he travels in a motor home. With his sister and her husband, he was enjoying seeing classmates and people from older and younger classes.

“We’re kind of out of place. Everybody else looks old,” Hanson joked. “Most of us are retired now. We’re not interested in partying. We are just glad to be healthy and enjoy life.”

A former coach came from Park City for the weekend. Between 1955 and 1961, Al Kober coached everything at Saco High School: football, basketball, baseball and track, which started the last year he was there. He moved to Columbus and coached for seven more years before becoming an administrator. He served as principal for 18 years.

JuDee Blockhus of Hinsdale said she just came for the pie. An amazing variety was served up in the basement of the Methodist Church on Saturday afternoon.

A big feature of the weekend was the demonstration of a horse-powered crosscut saw. Norm Gerard of Glasgow said his grandkids told him he had to go to Bismarck this weekend but he said, “Nope. I gotta see a saw.”

Terry Korman rebuilt the from parts that had lain outside on the Simonson place for years. He freed and oiled the heavy cast iron gears and rebuilt all the wooden parts. Many volunteers helped him move the whole arrangement to Saco. The Bitter Creek Pipeline Company loaned panels to fence off the area and city workers set them up.

Pat Olson brought his working team of Belgian horses from Whitewater to power the saw. After he hitched them to the arm that turned the gears and drove them around the circle a couple of times, he wrapped the reins around the arm and the horses continued walking by themselves.

Jerry Larsen of Hinsdale, who said he comes to Saco Fun Days every year, observed that this good team, well shod and not fat, could do this work all day.

The long saw blade cranked back and forth through a cottonwood log, with Korman standing watch over it. The crowd cheered and clapped when a cut block fell to the ground.

Sid Simonson, age 92, said the saw had been in their family since the 1900s. They used to use it to cut the firewood, but the kids still had to carry the blocks away and they had to be split. When they used the saw, it was attached to an engine by a belt pulley.

“I’m happy Terry got interested in it,” Simonson said. “He gathered up the old stuff, put it together and made it work.”

Valley County Commissioner Dave Pippin remembered when the fun days were started in the early 1960s. With help from a lot of people, three founders got it off the ground, his father, Clarence, who ranched out of town, Jake Jacobson, who owned Jake’s Bar in the basement of the Big Dome Hotel at the time, and Stuart Thompson, owner of Pay N Save.

“They had turtle races and tractor races and a rodeo. Outlaws on horses robbed the store. It was just a hoot for a little town to do it,” Pippin said. “It speaks well of the community that they all hold together and put it on.”

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