Sesquicentennial kicks off in Lake County

Communities start celebration of county's past

LAKE COUNTY — This past weekend, many fun activities and events throughout the county were available for people of all ages as the week-long Lake County Sesquicentennial Celebration kicked off.

"We have been extremely pleased with the enthusiasm from visitors and people who came out for events all over the county," said Jill Engelman, curator for the Lake County Historical Museum.

The celebration began Saturday morning with the annual Salmon 5K/10K Run, which started and finished at the Baldwin Village Hall. Proceeds raised benefit the St. Ann's senior meal program.

Tours of historic one-room and two-room schoolhouses were available on Saturday. At the Big Bass Lake School, which is now the Sauble Township Hall, MaryAnn Nugent and Gail Raad walked visitors through the two-room schoolhouse, with reference books, grades, attendance records and more on display. Maude Bigford, dressed as a teacher, gave tours of the Eden Township Unit School (Irons School), and Sid Woods opened the Spears Grove School, founded by his family, to visitors in Pinora Township.

The Lake County Historical Society hosted the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Finch Camp of Traverse City, a Civil War reenactment group, Saturday, at the Lake County Historical Museum. The event had a nice turnout, Engelman said, mentioning five museum docents noted the event was busy the whole time.

Colon Nash, great great grandson of Civil War veteran Albert Nash, along with others in the group, were dressed in uniforms, and were joined by Marty Corson, with the historical society, in her Civil War era dress. Re-enactor Bob Ribby shared poems of the Civil War on the front porch, and Bob Nash set up a scale model of an 1880s Lake County logging railroad train. Displays at the museum featured Civil War memorabilia and artifacts and information about the logging industry in Lake County.

On Saturday, the Chase Township Public Library Board hosted the annual Chase Pickle Festival, a fundraiser for the library which celebrates the town's past when a pickle salting operation was set up along the railroad from 1912 to 1955. This year the theme was the Sesquicentennial.

Four-year-old Abigail Lillian Litwiller Porter was very excited to win the Pickle Princess crown, sash and pickle-green cape.

Donna Wheeler, who emceed the pageant, asked her what her favorite color was, which was pink, and her favorite activity is playing on the swings and other equipment on the playground.

Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin, who helped crown the pickle princess, also ran the simulated drunk driving golf cart, where participants run the course one time without goggles, and then run through it with goggles that simulate different blood alcohol levels.

"A big thanks goes out to Lt. Nick Lanning, Jim Truxton and Qur'an Griffin on their contributions to this event," Martin said.

The winner of the Dress a Pickle contest was Joni Blanchard, who's pickle depicted Paul Bunyan.

Pam Simmons won The Great Pickle Bake-Off, with a pickle-themed dip she made. The other entrees included spicy spiral deep fried pickles and dill pickle flavored pumpkin seeds, for visitors to sample and vote for their favorite.

Chase Pickle Fest Sesquicentennial T-shirts depicting the Battle of Chase, concessions and baked goods were available for sale.

"Everything went really well. The weather was nice for a fall day. Everyone who came had a great time. It was nice to be part of the Sesquicentennial," Wheeler said.

On Sunday, local historian Sid Woods showed a collection of Native American artifacts he and his brother Jim Woods found throughout the decades on their family's property in Pinora Township, with carbon dating identifying some of the artifacts about 2,000 years old. A more recent artifact Woods had on hand were a couple of woven baskets Native Americans made and traded for tea at Bachant's Store in Chase in the 1870s. These baskets were handed down in his family.

The weekend concluded with a tour by Woods of the Gould Cemetery on State Road, which was founded by the Willard Gould family in 1872, when his young daughter Pricilla died. It then became deeded to Pinora Township and used as a cemetery. The cemetery was abandoned when the surrounding property was logged off in the 1880s.

Woods rediscovered the cemetery Lake County Star archives from the 1870s and worked with the Pinora Township Board to locate graves and designate it as a cemetery and block it off to Off-Road-Vehicle traffic by 2016.

The week-long Sesquicentennial celebration will conclude after another fun-filled event weekend.