Sun shines brightly on Minden centennial

From newborns to nonagenarians, the present met the past Sunday as the Town of Minden celebrated its centennial with an old-fashioned picnic that attracted 2,000 people.

At last count, 1,951 fried chicken dinners were served to hungry guests who stood up to an hour in the 90-degree sunshine for the free lunch that included chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, fruit and freshly baked biscuits.

Over at the dessert stand, the line moved a little faster as the ladies of the Minden Fortnightly Club scooped ice cream cones and sliced through apple pies and three kinds of birthday cake.

"I kind of choked up there on the podium at the end," said town board Chairman Ross Chichester, who steered the centennial committee for 18 months as it planned the big birthday bash to celebrate Minden's founding in 1906.

"Nothing happens because of one person," he said. "The centennial committee did a wonderful job. I think it went really well and everybody had a good time."

The day's festivities began at 11 a.m. with a small parade around Minden Park.

Jenny Barton, 33, came from the Gardnerville Ranchos with her two daughters, Brooke, 111Ú2 and Serene, 3. They also brought along 8-year-old Ezequiel Angelo.

"We came to enjoy the parade and the games, the food and the people," Barton said.

"I want to celebrate Minden's birthday," said Brooke, who was wearing a purple cape in the spite of the heat.

"I want to have fun," Ezequiel said.

The BAC In Time players from Carson City, dressed in period costumes, helped lead the parade, which made one stroll around the park, and organized old-fashioned games for the children.

"We bring pioneer games to the public," said Darla Bayer, 48, of Carson City. "We like to show children how to enjoy themselves before there was television, how they can have fun with a piece of string."

Veronika Avitia, 15, said the costumes aren't cumbersome despite the high collars, long sleeves and hoop skirts.

"It's fun," she said. "Sometimes people think we're Amish."

By noon, more than 500 people were at the park, securing spots in the shade and making a bee-line for troughs full of iced bottled water and soda.

Heather Jackson cradled her 2-week-old son Connor as his older brothers, Dominic 3, and Cody, 4, stayed closed by their dad, Donovan.

The Jacksons live in Gardnerville, but work in Minden.

"We just want to show our support for the town," Donovan Jackson said.

Rep. Jim Gibbons kicked things off by presenting town officials with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol.

H.F. Dangberg Sr. and his wife, Margaret Gale Ferris, arrived at the Minden Park gazebo by horse-drawn carriage.

Addressing the townsfolk, the Carson Valley pioneer - as brought to life by Gardnerville dentist Michael Fischer - outlined the journey from his birthplace in German to the Carson Valley.

Extolling the virtues of "order and discipline," Dangberg said he worked seven days a week, from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., along side his field hands.

"I think this is going to be a good town that my son has founded," he said.

After the presentation, Fischer said the beard he'd been sporting for six months was coming off.

"It's got about 10 more minutes," Fischer said as he made his way through the park with his wife. Janet, who created her dress for her characterization as Margaret Dangberg.

Madge Johnson, who has lived in Minden's second oldest house for 45 years, said she visited the centennial celebration to show her respect for the town she loves.

"The population increase drives me insane," said Johnson, 82.

She recalled watching farmers pull up on Highway 395 when it was a two- lane road to unload their goods across from her home.

Johnson said she was encouraged by her friend Patsy Maule to walk the block to the park for the centennial.

"I respect the place I live," she said. "I respect it, and I love it. I met lots of people I know, lots of old-timers."

Betty and Lawrence Jacobsen, who have lived in their house on Mono Avenue for 55 years, greeted friends from the shade of blue plastic canopy family members set up at the park.

Lawrence Jacobsen celebrated his 85th birthday on July 1.

"This couldn't be nicer," he said of the centennial. "This is the most people I have ever seen here."

The long-time state legislator hesitated to predict what the next 100 years might bring.

"It's hard to say," Jacobsen said. "The development kind of scares me. Many people are finding out what a beautiful place this is to live."

Town board member Bob Hadfield said he was thrilled with the turnout.

"The weather couldn't be better," he said. "I heard good comments about the exhibits in the CVIC Hall. People took the walking tour through the historic parts of town.

"Most of the politicians respected our request to keep campaign activities out of the park. It was a fun day for everybody."

Chichester estimated the town spent $25,000 on the celebration.

"We wanted to make sure we didn't run out of anything. We wanted to make sure it was first-class," he said. "Afterall, you only do it once every 100 years."


An exhibit of historic Minden photographs and a centennial quilt are on display at the CVIC Hall, Esmeralda Avenue, through Friday. Limited edition Minden Centennial silver medallions and memory books are on sale at the Town of Minden office, 1604 Esmeralda Ave., Suite 101, Minden. Information: 782-5976,


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