Loving the Dream175th volunteers celebrate the success of the event
It was what co-chair Millie Youngquist called “the tip of the iceberg” when about 70 people who had helped make the idea of an eight-day celebration of the 175th anniversary of Washington a reality all gathered to acknowledge the success of the event.
Youngquist said that well over 400 area volunteers had worked an estimated 15,000 man-hours over 18 months to bring the 175th to life. As a reward for helping with the event, co-chair Diane Gallagher held a barbecue at her farm in rural Washington. The volunteers had plenty of hamburgers and brats as they discussed the large turnout to the event and the happiness they saw on the faces of those attending.
“It was a wonderful celebration, and we are happy with how things turned out,” Youngquist said. “There is talk of some people wanting to have a scaled-down version – something that may be a hint of some of the things we did.”
There has been discussion of bringing back several of the events from the 175th as annual events, including the tractor parade and the salsa dance event. No plans have been made yet.
Gallagher said the appreciation barbecue for the volunteers was well attended. She said that she and Youngquist had put in at least 20 hours a week preparing for the event since August 2013.
“I am a volunteer at the Chamber and Michelle Redlinger asked me to co-chair,” Gallagher said. “I thought to myself ‘how hard could this be?’”
Assuming the chamber had records from the 150th anniversary celebration to work from, Gallagher accepted. She then learned most of the records from the 150th anniversary were destroyed by fire along with the former Chamber building on Jan. 13, 2008. She called the 175th anniversary celebration a “home-grown” event.
Gallagher, a former event planner, said that she felt everything about the celebration had gone well and said that she wouldn’t change anything.
Volunteer Nic Sabatke, who had co-chaired the kickoff day of the event with his wife Kierstan Peck. He said that he was shocked at the large turnout to the opening that was held during the annual Fly-In Breakfast at Washington Municipal Airport. Over 700 people, the largest turnout, were reported at the breakfast. He also proudly said that the Washington square was packed later in the day as the events continued into the evening.
“I thought the eight days went very well,” he said. “You plan for something like this for a year and a half and you just hope some people show up. I think it was a big success and it was great weather for the whole thing and a good turnout everyday.”
Sabatke and Peck have volunteered for many different things for many years. Sabatke said that volunteering comes second nature to them. He said that the couple believed the 175th would be a good event to be a part of.
Volunteer Jerome Vittetoe, who organized Ag Day and the tractor parade, credits the teamwork between the volunteers that helped the entire event come together.
“We are here tonight to celebrate the event and all the people who helped to make it possible,” he said.
He said that he had been asked to help organize the agricultural celebration and jumped at the chance. He said that the work was more “condensed” from his work with the Washington County Fair Board. He said he felt a large sense of accomplishment and is still receiving E-mails and comments on Ag Day.
“I really enjoyed things that were surprises and last-minute additions like the tree tour,” Youngquist said. “The greatest thing was the support from the community and the turnout by volunteers and participants.”
While Don Pfeiffer volunteered to help with tribute night, which was moved from the square to the airport due to weather, and he also tried to participate in all the 175th had to offer. He said there were only a couple of things he missed. During the week, he made quilt blocks, and sketched on the square.
“I don’t know how they got it to come together with all the variety that they did,” Pfeiffer said. “Someone ought to write all the details and have it available for other cities having an event in the coming years.”
He said that since retiring he feels that volunteering to help is something he should do.
Volunteer John Moenck said that most of his work on the 175th was helping on arts and crafts day, of which his wife co-organized. He said that he had been a co-chair for the 150th anniversary. He smiled when discussing the moustache that he grew for the 175th contest, having grown a full beard for the 150th.
“I think it has to resonate from pride in the community that we have a special community,” Moenck said, of his volunteerism. “Every community feels pride but I think Washington has a special pride. We are large enough yet small enough to benefit from community celebrations like the 175th.”
Mike York said that he spent most of the week taking pictures of the events. He said that his volunteerism comes from his enjoyment of helping out with events and being around others who are also helping.
Volunteers Gary and Virginia McCurdy said that they were excited to see the large number of people getting behind the community and celebrating what Washington had to offer. Gary McCurdy said that the alumni band was a high point.
“I feel we had an event that took into account most of the interests of the people in town and I thought it was received extremely well,” Virginia McCurdy said.