Humboldt celebration takes shape

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April 6, 2017 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Another page was turned this week as members of the local historical preservation group continued laying plans for the town’s 160th birthday celebration.
The event will unfold starting May 20 at the bandstand on the square and continue with old-time baseball, kids’ games and other attractions at Walter Johnson Field.
Among things discussed were a bicycle-decorating contest for youngsters and a procession from downtown to the field, including transporting baseball players to the playing field in antique cars. Also, the cars will be on display downtown before taking flight for the field.
Raymond Red Corn, assistant chief of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, has promised to be on hand and bring a delegation from the tribe’s Cultural Department. What awaits Humboldt observers, Red Corn said, still is in the deciding stage.
The Osage had a role in early Humboldt. So did Confederate raiders during the Civil War, but re-enactors’ portrayal of the town’s burning will be deferred to another time.
The vintage ball game that afternoon, featuring teams from Topeka and Wichita, will be a featured event. In the late 1800s, baseball had much different rules, equipment had little resemblance to today’s and the game was played as much for fun as to win.
Baseball is very much a part of Humboldt’s history, with Walter Johnson, the Washington Senators’ pitching ace, having been born on Nov. 6, 1887, a couple of miles north of town. He often returned for exhibitions and had a great following among local fans.
Tom Rutledge, Humboldt Historical Preservation Alliance president, announced more than $5,000 had been accumulated to make the day one to remember. Humboldt, B&W Trailer Hitches and Monarch Cement contributed $1,000 each; Allen County commissioners kicked in $2,000. H&H Grill gave $200, and other donations are expected, along with those that will be deposited in receptacles placed at Humboldt two banks, Johnson General Store and Stacey Cakes.
HHPA board members assured they would spend the money wisely, and make the celebration one to remember.
A hallmark part will be rides given in the Mahaffie Farm stagecoach from the Mahaffie historic site and center at Olathe. Monarch agreed to pay up to $1,000 to bring the stagecoach to Humboldt.
Following opening ceremonies at the bandstand, a cake provided by Stacey Cakes will give a sweet start to a fun-filled day.
Although not directly connected to the celebration, Humboldt Lions will host a kids fishing tournament the morning of the event at a pond on the Humboldt Golf Course.
Committee members will meet again at 1:30 p.m. April 17 in the Orcutt Back Yard Museum, and HHFA headquarters, in the 700 block of Bridge Street. Residents are welcome to have a say.

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