Sangudo celebrates 100th birthday in style
Well, that was some birthday party.
Sangudo may only be a tiny hamlet these days, but last weekend it had the hustle and bustle of a market town as its population suddenly exploded.
Hundreds descended on the Lac Ste. Anne community for a three-day extravaganza to mark its 100th homecoming. Main Street, the arena and sports grounds teamed with families, some of whom came from as far away as Edmonton, Sylvan Lake and Slave Lake. From ball games to a bean bag tournament, from face painting to a scavenger hunt, from glitz and glow tattoos to playing in a horseshoe pit, from an art and craft show to a tractor pull, the business of having fun boomed.
The list of entertainment seemed endless, bringing sunshine to faces everywhere, even when the occasional spot of rain fell from overcast skies. Thankfully, the weather seemed to respect the occasion; those clouds never darkened into anything very menacing and the sun continually made its presence felt.
This was great news for the many who lined up by the racetrack on Saturday for one of the day’s highlights – helicopter rides laid on by Whitecourt’s Taiga Helicopters.
Pilot Ryan Vandeligt took five people up at a time, giving them spectacular views from 1,000 feet. For those who lived in the area, he would circle their homes, making for some interesting camera shots.
“Awesome,” “Fantastic”, “Breathtaking,” were typical descriptions of those who returned from their ten-minute adventure. Everyone thought it has been well worth the wait and the $35 charge, a modest fee given the cost of fuel. Although Friday had seen a Wiener Roast and some local entertainment, Saturday was the big day, the day when the party really got into full swing, starting with an 8 a.m.-11 a.m. breakfast.
By the time breakfast was over, a huge parade of brightly decorated floats began wending its way through the hamlet from Sangudo Community School. People lined the streets to cheer, wave and take photographs.
Among those taking part was the Sangudo & District Agricultural Society, whose float was illuminated by blue and yellow balloons, inflatable pumpkins, corn dollies and artfully designed sunflowers.
Also eye-catching was the Royal Valley Cattle Co’s trailer, with a sign proclaiming “Home Of The Beef” and “The Werenka Family.” The vehicle was decked out with an array of banners and ribbons won down the years. Some were emblazoned with “Premier Exhibitor”, “Stampede” and “4-H Beef Council Achievement Day.”
Emily Szybunka, who went to school in Sangudo and now lives eight kilometres north of the hamlet, attracted many an admiring glance in her primrose top and ornately feathered bonnet, which recalled the style of the 1920s and 30s.
She sat in the back of a classic Model A Ford driven by Martial Berube, who looked every inch a gentleman in his Victorian black top hat. His wife, Lorraine, seated next to him, wore cream and white, also from a long-gone age. The couple come from Villeneuve.
“I thought I’d wear a vintage dress to go with the car,” said Szybunka.
Several floats carried old photographs of families with ties to Sangudo through the decades. Cecil Rhese can boast three generations of German extraction: grandparents, Albert and Dora, parents, Henry and Vicky, and then himself and sister, Evelyn.
Meanwhile, inside the community school an art and craft show was drawing plenty of visitors. One stall contained a mix of watercolours, soapstone carvings and guitars and ukuleles.
Gloria Keller was responsible for the carvings, her husband Courtney made the instruments. While they waited for visitors, the couple performed – Gloria singing, Courtney playing the guitar.
Down by the Arena, one of the busiest attractions was the bouncy castle; never a moment passed when it wasn’t moving as children found limitless pleasure in jumping, sliding and tumbling.
An official cake cutting and plaque unveiling ceremony took place inside the Arena. There were performances by the Sangudo Community School Choir, followed by a roast beef dinner, a dance, fireworks and a midnight supper - a spectacular end to a spectacular day.
Sunday featured a show and shine by the Mayerthorpe County Cruisers, a church service with live gospel music and hymns and a tractor pull. “I think this has been an absolutely wonderful homecoming,” said one of the organizers, Donna McKeen Babiy.
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