In celebration of 128 years, the “The Little Town on the Prairie” has scheduled the annual community appreciation, traditionally recognized as Old Settlers Day, this Saturday, Sept. 26, at Alta Vista.
According to Pam McDiffett, city official, the Alta Vista Chamber of Commerce has a full slate of activities for all ages scheduled all day throughout the rural western Wabaunsee County community.
“Alta Vista was founded in 1887, and it was incorporated as a city in 1905. Alta Vista is derived from the Spanish word for “high view”, and the city was so named from its lofty elevation,” McDiffett said
“In 1887, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway built a main line from Topeka through Alta Vista to Herington. It foreclosed in 1891, and was taken over by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway. Despite three mergers, the last in 1997, with the Union Pacific Railroad, many in the community still refer to trains as Rock Island,” according to McDiffett
“The first post office in Alta Vista was established in March 1887, and remains open today despite the town’s population of 444, which has remained steady and edged upward slightly during past decade,” McDiffett related.
Registration gets underway for this year’s Old Settlers Day 5K run and walk, at 7:30, Saturday morning, and the race leaves the City Park at 8 o’clock, when the vendor market with antiques and crafts opens at the same location.
There’ll be a jam session, 9:30, featuring Ron Schultz & Friends at Ag Heritage Park, on the south edge of the community, where a barn quilt show, open throughout the day, will climax with and afternoon drawing for a barn quilt giveaway.
Always a popular feature, the model trains display by the MARJ Club is set for the Baptist Church annex, opening at 10 o’clock.
Highlight of Old Settlers Day is the annual parade down Alta Vista’s Main Street, with lineup at 10:30, and starting time set for 11 o’clock, with the Fort Riley Band in the lead playing traditional and patriotic tunes.
Schools are essential for communities, and survival of rural towns depends on schools, as much as the populations depend on a school’s faculty, administration and staff.
Likely no rural community knows the fact better and appreciates their school system more than Alta Vista, as there has been considerable turmoil from nearby-affiliate school closing, and concerns of keeping the local system, as part of Unified School District 417, based out of Council Grove, intact.
“Thus, the Alta Vista city officials and the Chamber of Commerce in public expression of appreciation for the dedicated faculty at Prairie Heights Elementary School in Alta Vista have named them as “Grand Marshals” for the Old Settles Day Parade this year,” McDiffett emphasized.
It is expected that most of the Prairie Heights Elementary School teachers will be forefront of this year’s parade following the Fort Riley Band, and many are said to intend to take part in much of the community’s activities throughout the day.
The Chamber of Commerce is again planning their ever popular hometown dinner at noon in the park with the Alta Vista State Bank, an essential part of the community for 115 years beginning in 1900, providing drinks and cookies, to go along with the delicious homemade ice cream again provided by the Masonic Lodge. The ever-popular Fort Riley Band is to provide special dinner music.
A rock climbing wall and inflatable will be open from noon until 3, in the afternoon, with kid’s games at 12:30, to feature frog and turtle races, bike races and the always most exciting stick horse races. There’ll be a kids’ peddle pull at 1:30.
Barber Bill Unruh has been named coordinator for the anticipated and highly locally competitive horseshoe pitching tournament that gets underway at 1 o’clock.
During the afternoon, Ag Heritage Park is hosting an old fashioned corn picking demonstration, south of Highway 4, at the Main Street intersection.
Annual alumni banquet for graduates from the former Alta Vista High School will be in the evening beginning at 7 o’clock, in the Prairie Heights Elementary School.
Old Settlers Day festivities at Alta Vista conclude with Call it a Night Band entertainment.