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Grenora celebrates 100th year

Posted 6/28/16 (Tue)

Grenora celebrates 100th year

By Sydney Glasoe Caraballo
The golden spike was driven into the ground in November 1916 to commemorate the end of the spur line by Great Northern Railroad. The town site, which sprung up as fast as the railroad, was named Grenora in the railroad’s honor.
Grenora will celebrate its centennial July 1, 2 and 3 with a Sawyer Brown concert, old time dances and street dances, class reunions, a parade, picnics, a history walk and much more.
Carlyle Norby, who is Grenora’s Community Club president, said residents have been planning for the event for nearly three years. Nearly 1,000 people had pre-registered as of two weeks ago, and Norby estimates more than 2,500 people will attend Saturday’s events.
“People from nearly every state will be here,” Norby said.  “Some are travelling from Alaska.”
One of the club’s accomplishments is hosting a Sawyer Brown concert at 9 p.m. at the Sunset Park Ball Field Saturday night. The gate opens at 7 p.m., and Whiskey Rebellion will open the concert at 8 p.m. Sawyer Brown, a popular country music band, has hits such as “Some Girls Do,” “Step That Step,” “The Walk,” and “Thank God for You.”
Norby said people can buy tickets online at www.grenora.myevent.com. They can also visit the website, which has the schedule of events, to purchase tickets and buttons. A street dance will follow the concert.
Another special highlight of the centennial is the old time dance and a coinciding street dance on Friday evening. Shotgun Creek will perform at the old time dance in the Grenora Community Center starting at 8 p.m., and Balderdash will play from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Main Street.
Various musical entertainers, including the Grenora Alumni Band, will also play at the newly built town square on Saturday.
Many residents are also excited for the History Walk of Grenora, which features plaques strategically placed on Main Street and throughout town to detail the history of businesses and residences. Ron Laqua, who is a 1972 graduate and serves on the Grenora Public School Foundation, organized the walk.
“The history walk is my little project,” Laqua said. “I’m a history buff and wanted to highlight our town’s history.”
Laqua utilized the town’s 50th anniversary book, as well as the  memories of local senior citizens, to compile the detailed timeline of the town. Business and residential locations are commemorated with nearly 50 plaques placed throughout the town. 
Laqua says by 1917 there were six lumberyards, five general stores, four banks, four hardware stores, four grain elevators, three hotels, three motor repair garages, three movie theaters, three pool halls, two newspapers, a jewelry store, an electric generation plant and a photo gallery.
“It seems like blind faith to me,” Laqua said of the business flurry the town’s first year.
While not all of the businesses could sustain themselves, today Grenora boasts a remodeled school, a new town square and two new businesses on Main Street: Treasured Stitches and Ace’s Beauty Boutique. 
Laqua said those businesses and the school addition are testimonials to the vibrant, tight-knit community that is still Grenora. 
“Our community spirit has rallied,” he said.
Laqua, who retired from his telecommunications career, is hosting reunions for the class of 58 and 72 at the family home, which he is currently remodeling and sits on Lot 1, Block 1. Laqua, who believes the house is certainly one of the older homes in town, said one of the original brick buildings still stands. It once housed a bank and is now the town’s post office.
Besides the history walk, Laqua said he hopes former graduates and residents will also enjoy touring the new additions to the school. 
“When you look at the original part of the 1968 build, it stands as a good testimonial to the pride of the town and our determination to support it.”
Norby, who served in school administration for more than 40 years and who the high school football field is named after for his service to Grenora, said more than 50 volunteers are helping with the Centennial, and former residents have committed to help once they arrive for the celebration. Twenty-two committees are ensuring the event will run smoothly and successfully.
The committees have included events for every age; they have many children’s activities available to include inflatable play areas, kids games, and a paleontologist at the Community Center.
Friday highlights include a silent auction, school tours, scavenger hunt and hypnotist to be concluded with the dances.
Saturday features begin with breakfast on Main Street followed by a parade and antique car show, opening ceremonies, class reunions, a barbeque, commemorative gun auction, the Sawyer Brown concert and dances. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Its grand marshalls are Dick and Myrna Lundby, who ran the local hardware store for more than 40 years. The commemorative gun auction, which will take place at 6:45 p.m. at the Town Square, will offer Henry Boy .45 Colt rifles and Henry Golden Boy .22 rifles.
Sunday events include church services, a picnic at Sunset Park and games and horse events at the Grenora Saddle Club.