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By Teresa Bigham / The Hesperian-Beacon—
FLOYDADA – For the first time in 91 years the long-time tradition, Old Settlers Reunion, has been postponed for the safety of everyone around.
Old Settlers has always taken place in May, but this year the gatherings, the games, the shopping and the best time of the summer has been postponed due to the COVID-19 virus. The good news is that it will happen, it will just be later.
Hundreds of people were looking forward to this for months, and it was no different 91 years ago. That is right, Old Settlers has been a tradition for that long.
On May 28, 1929, the Old Settlers met on the courthouse lawn and organized the Floyd County Pioneer Association.
J.J. Day was elected president, R.E. L. Muncy was elected vice-president, Tom W. Deen secretary and Glad Snodgrass, H.C. Randolph, G.L. Fawver, Mrs. WM McGehee and Mrs. E.C. Henry were all elected directors. It was recorded in the minutes that day was spent celebrating the 39th birthday of Floyd County.
The Cornhuskers Orchestra composed of John McDonald, J. B. McPeak, C. H. O’Bannon, Clyde Jackson, J. R. McDonald, R. C. Dunavant and Dan Ratjen furnished the music for the celebration that day.
In 1930, it was decided to mail cards to the old pioneers of the former days, who had moved to different parts of the state inviting them to be present. It was also decided that each family attending would also be asked to bring a basket lunch. This year Mrs. W. M. McGehee would order badges that would display the name and date of the pioneer coming to Floyd County.
Glad Snodgrass was appointed business manager of the Floyd County Pioneer Association.
On May 28, 1930, the Floyd County Pioneers Association met on the Court House lawn for the second annual meeting celebration the 40th birthday of Floyd County.
E. L. Muncy gave the welcoming address. Music was provided by John McDonald, W. T. Divinity, R. C. Dunavant and J. R. McPeak. The crowd enjoyed a basket lunch at noon. There was plenty of hot coffee for everyone to enjoy as they sat and visited.
Jumping ahead a few years to 1934. The celebration again took place on May 28. With excitement in the air the crowd started gathering around 10 a.m. Registration was over 409 pioneers that signed in. This annual celebration is rapidly growing.
May 1935 brought on new committees for the celebration. There was a registration committee, a basket dinner committee, a street parade committee, a seat committee, a dance committee and a cowboy song committee.
The pioneers got together to celebrate Floyd County’s 45th birthday on May 28. Judge W. B. Clark gave the welcoming address. There was 439 people that registered for the days party.
The afternoon was spent eating, singing, dancing and spending cheerful times chatting with neighbors and friends.
The Pioneer Association Committee voted the next celebration to be held at the City Park.
The association held a meeting on May 1, 1937, for the purpose of preparing for the annual celebration.
Mrs. Arthur D. Duncan was president, C. W. Smith vice-president and Tom W. Deen was the secretary. Tom McClain, Mrs. John Silas Duncan, C. L. Anderson, Mrs. Maud Hollums, Mrs. Carl McAdams and Eddie Duncan made up the board of directors.
The celebration had been moved back to the courthouse lawn.
In 1942, the Pioneer Association committee voted to offer cash prizes for the winners of the best float. The prize was $2.50 for first place, $2 for second. Best dressed pioneer couple won $2 and second won $1.50. Best old-time cowboy won $1.50 while Oldest Pioneer Man and Woman in the parade each won $1. Largest family in the parade won $2 and the oldest married couple won $2. First prize for the bicycle race won $1.50, second place won $1 and the best wildflower bouquet won $1.50 and second place won $1.
Each year the crowd gets bigger and bigger and there’s more fun to be had by everyone. What better way to kickoff spring than to celebrate the birthday of the county?
On April 22, 1944, the committee met to plan the annual celebration. New items had been added to the prize list. Along with the prior fun activities, a potato sack race for 50 years or old with a cash prize of $1.50 going to the winner and $1 to the person who came in second. A flag race for the ladies was added and the cash prize was $1.50 to the winner and a $1 to the lady who came in second.
What better activity for 12 and under than a cracker eating contest? Yes, that was added for the kids and the cash prize was $1 to the winner and .50 for second place. Hurdle jumping was also added this year and the cash prize for first was $2 and second place received $1.
As the years passed by and the community started to grow and prosper, so did so the celebration of the County’s birthday.
In 1965, Old Settlers was going strong. The community was turning out by the hundreds. The pretty spring day was perfect. Families gathered to celebrate, to visit with neighbors and friends they had not seen in a while. Kids were running around laughing, having fun. When the parade was over, and prizes were given out Cedar Hill community 4-H received $15 for placing second in the best community float division.
The best pioneer float went to KFLD with a cash prize of $25. Bealls pioneer float won second place and took home $15. Producers Coop Elevator won $25 in the best commercial float class while Floydada Seed and Delinting won second place and a cash prize of $15 while Davis Seed placed third and won $10.
The best club float went to Floydada 4-H, and they walked away with a cash prize of $25 while the Baptist Spanish Mission won second and $15. Third place went to the Brownies group, and they won $10.
The Floydada High School Band received $50 for marching in the parade.
Jerry Lackey won $5 for the best decorated bicycle, Bobby Norrell won second and won a prize of $3 and Terry Norrell won third and took home $2.
The oldest man at reunion was J. A. Dunlap, and he won $7.50 while the oldest woman was Mrs. W. M. Roger, and she also won $7.50
As the years went on, the activities and prizes have changed, but the love for this day stays the same as it was 91 years ago.
For many years people have waited months for this day to come around. They spent months planning activities, and today is no different. The fun and treasured memories will continue, just not this May. It could be in August or it may have to wait until next year, but rest assured it will happen. The tradition will live on. The public’s health and safety are the main concern at this time.