Eagle Point has celebrated July 4th for a good number of years. While there are no dates on some articles we have regarding the festivities, we know there were reports on activities in the late 1950s.
The 2nd year for an all-day celebration must have been in the late 1950s. We have several articles with no dates, but the one mentioning the 2nd year for an all-day celebration had ads for cars through 1958 on the reverse side.
Some of the activities included a musket and ball shoot using an antique gun from the collection of Delbert Stevens. Other booths included bingo, fishing, dart throw, bingo, baseball throw, cork gun shoot, penny pitch, sponge throw, dunk tank, among the other carnival booths.
There was a horse club play day at Desert Pegasus, buckaroo breakfast with hotcakes, eggs, ham, coffee and milk all you can eat for $1. This was done by Junior Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of President and Chef Harry Hanscom,
There was a queen and her court. (This information referred to the dedication of the park and Norma Noble, previous year’s queen, was to do coronation.
There was a Mardi Gras ball at 9 p.m. with dancing on high school tennis courts. Costumes were encouraged There was a grand march around the ballroom at midnight which enabled judges to pick the most attractively dressed couple to be named king and queen of the Mardi Gras Ball. Unmasking took place at midnight with dancing until 1 a.m.
Another article regarding July 4th had a chuck wagon breakfast beginning at 5:30 a.m. Practice for the horseshoe pitching contest started at 9 a.m. with the contest at 11 a.m. Races and games for children began at 10 a.m. The queen was crowned at noon when an honorary mayor was also inaugurated. Parade at 1 p.m. A horse show followed and there was a 5-inning softball game between kids and adults at 2:30 p.m. and, finally, a bbq at the Grange went from 3-8 p.m
There was an afternoon tug of war across Little Butte Creek between the Central Point and Eagle Point Jaycees.
Putnam’s Grist Mill had an antique show with a beard contest judged in the afternoon.
Street dancing on Main St. Went from 8 p.m. to midnight
There also was a time when there was a three-day 4th celebration. It included two dances, a parade, a rodeo, a buckaroo breakfast, a Grange dinner and a variety of carnival games and prize booths. There was a Rodeo Queen and Fourth of July Queen with a Coronation Ball at the Community Center building. Jackpot roping at the Eagle Pont rodeo grounds.
That year the parade was at 11 a.m.,with the heme “Rodeo Days.” A western dance on Saturday night began at 9 p.m.
In1975, the Jaycees served breakfast to about 800 people.. A BBQ was sponsored by UR Baseball and at 9 p.m., Ed’s Oasis had a Hoe Down sponsored by EP Jaycettes. Dancing went on until 1 a.m. A timber carnival was still part of the activities in 1975. John Snow was one of the highschool novice two-man bucking team members. Mike Forester was the big winner, walking away with five trophies.
The crowd got a thrill from the performance by Bill Cobb on top of an 80 ft. high climbing pole. The report said “the climax of his performance was sliding down a support cable, which left a silence over the crowd.”
While some of the activities have changed over the years, Eagle Point continues to have one of the largest fun-filled 4th of July events in southern Oregon. And today, in contrast to years ago, the day ends with a huge fireworks display. Check out the schedule of events for 2011 elsewhere in this issue and enjoy America’s birthday, Eagle Point style.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent