Colfax ponders sesquicentennial in 2014

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — To celebrate or not to celebrate — or how to celebrate?

That was the question the Colfax Village Board considered at the February 11 meeting concerning the village’s sesquicentennial in 2014.

Scott Gunnufson, village trustee, asked that the village’s 150th anniversary be put on the agenda for discussion.

Gunnufson said he had heard that village residents are wondering if Colfax is going to have a celebration in 2014 for the sesquicentennial and that he had asked Troy Knutson, Colfax historian, about what had been done for the centennial in 1964.

In 1964, Colfax hosted a three-day celebration August 28, 29 and 30, he said.

Since the Colfax Firefighters’ Ball is in September, Gunnufson wondered — if the village, indeed, were going to have a celebration — whether it should be held earlier in August so it does not conflict with the Firefighters’ Ball.

Gunnufson said he had also heard there was some interest in holding the celebration on Main Street.

In the past, celebrations were not able to use Main Street because of the ambulance and fire station and liability issues, but now that the fire station and rescue squad are no longer located on Main Street, perhaps a downtown celebration might be a more viable option, he said.

“I wanted to bring it up so the (village) board could start thinking about it … I wanted to get it on everyone’s mind,” Gunnufson said.

More help

Gunnufson suggested that each village board member could be responsible for a portion of the sesquicentennial celebration, such as food, entertainment and historical displays.

Other groups, such as the Colfax Women’s Club, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups and the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group could help with the planning, he said.

“I suppose each board member would end up with a committee,” noted Mark Halpin, village trustee.

“As a board, we need to find a direction that we want to go … we could have committees under each board member to make sure things get done,” Gunnufson said.

“I am in favor of a 150th celebration. I remember in ’64 that the big contest was the beard contest. I couldn’t grow one then. Maybe I can now … the community really had a good time with that,” said Gary Stene, village president.

Besides a beard contest in 1964, the celebration included a firemen’s water fight and a parade, Gunnufson noted.

This time around, businesses on Main Street could perhaps form a historical timeline with displays in their windows, he said.

WisDOT

“What are the chances we could get the DOT to approve (a street party or street dance)?” asked Susan Olson, village trustee.

Jackie Ponto, administrator-clerk-treasurer, said she has started researching contacts in the state Department of Transportation.

The Firemen’s Ball Parade blocks state Highway 40 for a certain period of time on that Saturday, Gunnufson noted.

“I want this to be a collaborative effort of the village board. It is next year, so we have time to plan for it. We should keep discussing it to see how big or how small the celebration should be,” he said.

“I think it’s a good idea, but I think we want to reach out to the other groups and get them involved, and the sooner we can get going (the better). We can have Jackie send out a letter to see who is interested in helping,” Stene said.

“It’s going to take the effort of a lot of people, and we want a nice (celebration),” he said.