Annual Town Celebration: CPA Picnic

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During the days of early statehood, Kansans, like settlers in other states, often formed vigilante groups for mutual protection. Many of these groups formed lodges in the Anti-Horse Thief Association that shared its bylaws, practices, and rules with the Central Protective Association, which held a convention in the area in 1900 organized by John Ott of Eudora. Horse thievery vexed residents of Douglas County. The March 16, 1899 Eudora newspaper wrote: “In view of numerous thefts of horses throughout the county, authorized delegates of valorous county protective associations appealed to the county commission” to set a $100 reward for information about the crime. Later papers of that year reported on stable break-ins and horse equipment thefts.

On January 18, 1901, Eudora residents organized C.P.A. Lodge No. 191, one of five Douglas County lodges, including one in the Belleview area. They voted S.J. Lawson as their first president. Charter “horse thieves” members were: J. Dolisi, C. Richards, A.F. Durr, H.W. Lowrie, Charles Gabriel, and W.A. Fuller. Subsequent “Horse Thieves” who joined (in order of initiation) were: T. Darling, B. Durr, W.H. Robinson, E.W. Gerstenberger, Dan Reber, Ben Foust, B.J. McBride, Max Rosenau, E. Kraus, A. Kraus, G. Fichler, W.M. Diedrich, W. Combest, H. Westerhouse, Henry Hagenbuch, C.F. Schneider, J.F. Copp, Robert Moeller, W. Shellack, August Bohnsack, Emil Schmidt, J.M. Tarleton, A.F. Armstrong, W.L. Watson, J. Landon, Fred Gerstenberger, Herman Schmidt, Louis Seiwald, G.L. Catlin, Waldo Durr, Riley Combest, Roy Combest, Jake Milburn, Albert Neis, J.B. Miller, J. Wank, F.S. Bernitz, Edward Bartz, G.E. Miller, A.H. Vogel, C. A. Moody, and others in years to come.

The 1904 bylaws (Article 1, Section 1) read: “The name of this lodge shall be the Eudora Central Protective Association #191 and the regular meetings of this lodge shall be held on the last Friday of each month, at the hour of 7 p.m. from the first day of October to the first day of April and eight o’clock from the first day of April to the first day of October.”

Each January the Eudora C.P.A. Lodge met for an oyster supper with all the trimmings in the I.0.0.F. Hall. After supper, members and their wives enjoyed a short program of music, readings, singing, grand march, and dancing. The evening typically ended before midnight with maybe a short chorus of “Home Sweet Home” to top off the occasion.

The newly formed Eudora lodge’s first get-together—the area C.P.A. Picnic—took on its own life and replaced Eudora’s Fourth of July picnic as the social event of the year. “We’ve lived here 50 years,” said Mary (Ellenbecker) Nusbaum, 1022 Main Street, said. “I remember the little neighborhood children running up to us when we moved in. The first thing they told us about was the C.P.A. Picnic. My kids really liked the year they gave away live baby ducks as prizes.”

The First Eudora C. P. A. Picnic. One June Saturday afternoon in 1901, Douglas and Johnson County delegates met at the Odd Fellows Hall to arrange a picnic for members and their families to get acquainted. Gus Filer, Charles Gabriel, and Dr. Robinson, all delegates from Eudora, lobbied for the picnic to be held amidst the walnut trees at Durr’s Grove, north of the Wakarusa River, more west than north of the Santa Fe Depot. Members gave the three go-ahead to secure the grove.

Accessible by an early Main Street bridge or by ferry, Durr Grove also could be reached by the foot bridge where the city buildings are now. When day turned to night, coal oil lanterns lit the foot bridge. The Eudora local paper ballyhooed the event:

“The picnic of the C.P.A., embracing as it does members in almost every city and village in Kansas, which is to be held in Durr’s Grove next week Thursday, will probably be the largest gathering ever held here. President Conner of Atchison and Secretary Smith of Kansas City, Kansas, Messers. Behhler, Brownell, Bishop, and Hardy of Lawrence will make addresses as well as other officers of its association.”

If the picnic description ended there, one might predict a genteel, staid event. However, the story remainder provided a comprehensive amusement listing, prize awards, and prize donors. Besides the sack, wheelbarrow, ladies’ foot, bicycle, fat man, and blind man’s rooster race, the Picnic offered prizes for the person eating pie in the “shortest time, hog fashion,” best cake walker, and girl who can drive 11 nails in a board in the shortest time. For many events it wasn’t what you did it was who you were: The sweetest girl (decided by one-penny votes with a prize of genuine maple syrup), prettiest lady, handsomest man, prettiest baby, newest married couple, even hungriest looking man! Round Corner Drug of Lawrence donated a bottle of iron tonic as the prize for this last “winner.”

Eudora merchants donating prizes included Gus Ziesenis (buggy whip), “something” (H. Abels), E. H. Tareleton ($1), W. A. Fuller ($.60 knife), Hoover White (hair curler, the first prize for prettiest girl), Julius Lotz (picture frame), S. J. Lawson ($3.50 worth of children’s clothing), and Eudora Milling Company (100 lbs. of Gilt Edge Flour to the girl with the homeliest escort). Clyde Hughes, William Schubert, J. Bales, Henry Hagenbuch, and Fred Moll each donated $.50, a typical second-place prize.

Over 1,500 C.P.A. members and their families, picnic baskets in tow, poured into Durr’s Grove August 8th for Eudora’s first C.P.A. Picnic. As one member said, “They are out for a time, and very little of a ceremonial nature will be offered—or expected.”

The parade left Durr’s Grove at 11 a.m., snaking its way through Eudora streets before returning to the Grove. At 1 p.m., the races ― the day’s chief attraction ― began. Lawrence members took most every race. That is, except for the kids’ races, won by E. Jones, Fall Leaf, with Edward Mistele coming in second. Eudora placed second in the fat man’s race with C. H. Daugherty doing Eudora proud and Miss Magnum, also placing second, in the ladies’ foot race.

One event in which Eudora truly shone was family size. The William Bartz family won first prize for having the most boys in a family. The J. W. Kindred family did the same for producing the largest family of girls. Another first-place finisher in a size-related contest was Louis Gerstenberger. He took first for the largest mustache for boys under 17. His prize was a $2 razor. Durr’s Grove hosted an even bigger bash a few weeks later. The Douglas County A. 0. U. W. organization threw its own picnic at Durr’s Grove with more than double the C.P.A. crowd turning out. It, too, had parades, speeches, and amusements, capped off by a dance to Buch’s Band that night. Alfred Durr, grove owner, later said that he was seriously thinking about building a large pavilion to accommodate the needs of future gatherings.

Durr’s wasn’t the only available picnic site. Lawrence had several groves and parks. Around Eudora, German Methodists held annual picnics at Fred Thoren’s Grove, Marley’s Grove south of Eudora was popular, the black population used Moll’s Grove, and Charles Pilla hosted an annual event for Kansas City poultry dealers at his grove: Pilla’s Grove. What Durr had that the others didn’t was easy access from the railroad, which allowed for those outside of Eudora to attend events.

C.P.A. Picnic: 1902-1920. The second C.P.A. Picnic, at Durr’s Grove again, featured a cakewalk (the crowd favorite); athletic races (Gideon Neis won the boy’s foot race); mule races (Leoti Richards, Eudora, first prize); produce prizes (largest watermelon, white corn, new corn, onions, etc.); and continued with its silly contest category. Picnic-goers could win prizes for baby with a worst case of colic, best-looking widow, best-looking old bachelor, or tallest man, besides the contest categories of the previous year. Gilbert McCabria had the honor of being “fattest boy.” The Picnic downside was the no-show of the C.P.A. president from Atchison; a Lawrence speaker took his place at the podium.

The day’s mishap occurred when strolling girls wearing white dresses, the fashion of the times, spooked a horse pulling a carriage. When the horse veered in fright, it tossed out the couple inside. Luckily, the carriage’s driving lines caught in the wheel, stopping the horse. (The unconscious woman occupant revived later to partake in the picnic.) Two drunken men, one from DeSoto, the other from outside Eudora got into a fight with one man “mashing the other’s face.” Talk was that the Picnic would take place elsewhere the next year.

Flood waters crimped plans for any picnic in 1903. Five C.P.A. lodge delegates surveyed Durr’s Grove, recently submerged under eight feet of flood waters, and declared it ready for the planned August 20 Picnic. Vaudeville performances and an all-woman band, the delegates decided, would be the featured attraction. Not at this grove, said Alfred Durr, grove owner, causing the Picnic to be postponed indefinitely.

The rivers rose eight feet over flood stage the following July. Railroad service to Eudora halted. Picnic organizers deemed Baldwin a better picnic site and held the Picnic there Thursday, August 25th. Picnic-goers came back to Durr’s Grove in 1905 to watch Buch’s Band lead the parade, jugglers, and Kelley, “a man who has been under fire so long and is still an intensively alive corpse.” People also came from all over on the “plug,” to hear Governor Hoch’s inspiring speech about early pioneer life and fine Kansas citizens. Politicians continued to attend the gathering: the Lawrence Daily World reported on August 17, 1906 that “The Central Protective Assn. picnic drew more than 3,000 to Eudora yesterday and most of the top political candidates attended."

In 1907, the attorney general of Kansas spoke to the August 14 Picnic crowd about law enforcement, and a U.S. Senate hopeful entertained all with his stories of Panama and the Philippines. Ladies competed at the new contest where they had to harness a horse and hitch the horse to a buggy ready to drive. Charles Pilla gave a pair of shoes to the winner; the second-place finisher got a gallon of Wiedemann’s best ice cream. This frozen treat was so popular that Picnic attendees ate 110 gallons.

Sales of cold drinks and lemonade totaled $400 in 1909 at the Picnic, which 5,000 attended. Crowds viewed a 3-legged calf and paid a dime to do the cane and doll racks. Buch’s Band played during the day, while the Newhouse Orchestra played the night dance.

C.P.A. lodges of Douglas County held their annual picnic August 21, 1909 at Bromelsick’s Grove. Different name, same place. W. H. Robinson, Eudora, introduced Senator Bristow, yet another political speaker, and the new contest of the year was a sandwich eating contest in which Charlie Everley came in second. (The previous year, Everley placed first in the pie eating contest.)

Because the Wakarusa rose too high in 1910, Picnic-goers couldn’t use the footbridge and had to use the bridge. Picnic organizers worried about the weather, because rain cut attendance and would leave the organization in debt with no treasury funds into which to dip. The sun came out. The balloonist flew to the skies twice—to the crowd delight—and parachuted. C.P.A. members wore white caps with pink ribbons as they rode horses in the parade. Word traveled at the Picnic that Lawrence merchants wanted the event moved to their town to boost business. Even the thought of such action, enraged the Eudora Weekly News editor, Ralph Hemenway “we can hardly keep from frothing at the mouth,” Hemenway wrote August 29, 1910. The picnic “is a red letter day with all roads leading to Eudora,” which could change if the C.P.A. went with Lawrence’s offer to pay for all amusements and prizes and have it its Woodland Park showplace.

Hemenway concluded his editorial with “above all this picnic’s a Eudora affair. It is not distinctly a C.P.A. affair and the association members should recognize that. They would make as big a mistake in attempting to take it to Lawrence as the town would in allowing it to go. And to the Lawrence merchants, we say ‘Hands off,’ if you wish to keep the goodwill of Eudora. The picnic is ours and we mean to keep it here.”

The Douglas County C.P.A. Picnic was in Eudora the next year. Score one for Eudora, zero for the Lawrence merchants. To escape the heat, the Degree of Honor Ladies’ lodge set up a bungalow with rockers for anyone seeking shade. Wind gusts ripped the hot air balloon, spoiling the show, but the 20-piece Olathe Concert band and speakers Charles Curtis and Senator Brady made up for it. The footbridge was open and ready for business with advertisements urging the crowd to avoid the dust by paying only a nickel to cross the bridge.

The next two years brought significant changes. In 1912, the new steam-powered merry-go from Kansas City made its debut. “The merry-go-round was where the fire station is now, a place where the ground is level,” Paul Sommer, 926 Church Street, said. “That was before when the library and parking lot were all part of the city park. The merry-go-round ran on wheels. They had to put a track down on level ground to run it.”

This same year, the Picnic stretched to two days—Wednesday and Thursday—and Eudora merchants offered a cap with plumes free for any horse riders in the parade. If you didn’t have a horse, the merchants would loan you one, too. The result was one hundred horse riders, mostly girls, and ten floats. Besides the Kansas City Jubilee singers; “colored” comedians; and banjo, mandolin, and guitar shows. A movie picture provided the entertainment.

The balloonist didn’t show in 1912, but he did in 1913 at the one-day Picnic held at a new location:

Eudora City Park, site of the present Picnic. The crowd proved to be smaller, about 2,500, and enjoyed the shooting gallery, cane rack, ball throws, speakers, and the baseball game between the Eudora Blues and the Mail and Breeze team from Topeka. Eudora’s one-point win over Topeka made the game even better.

Baseball games drew crowds to the C.P.A. picnics for the next couple of years. Eudora usually did pretty well, except for the year the team used “hired help” ― four students from Haskell. Of course, the Haskell students got blamed for the loss. People came in automobiles instead of the train, and ten dollars became the standard prize for races. For music, people listened to the Lawrence Fraternal Aid Band, Santa Fe Apprentice Band, Vinland Brass Band, Alabama Glee Club, and International Colored Quartet. They also watched the free moving pictures. When the weather turned menacing, George Lothholz invited the Saturday night dancers to his opera house on Seventh Street and Main Street .

During this time, the Eudora C.P.A. and Kaw Valley C.PA. became the official Picnic sponsors. The 1914 newspaper credited business men in and around Eudora as the picnic’s hosts; the 1915 paper reported that the local and Kaw Valley lodges met to set the date. Newspapers in the next few years mention the Eudora and Kaw Valley lodges as sponsors. The Lawrence Gazette, June 11, 1920 ran a piece stating that a joint C.P.A. Picnic was planned at Woodland Park in Lawrence. “The Eudora branch of the C.P.A. will be asked to go in on the picnic in spite of the fact that they hold one that month in Eudora.”

During World War 1, picnic proceeds ($60.44 in 1918) were donated to the Red Cross. Orators spoke on the war. One in 1917 said the U.S. would have Germany “whipped” in a year. He was smart enough to praise Germans. It was just “Kaiser Bill” who caused the trouble, he said, to the first- and second-generation Germans in the Eudora audience.

The 1919 Picnic was dedicated to homecoming soldiers. Committees from every church banded together to set a lunch table for the area’s 150 returning soldiers. The luncheon served at the Rural High School Gymnasium was iced cantaloupe, roast beef, chicken (500 lbs.), mashed potatoes, sliced tomatoes, cabbage salad, pickles, olives, Parker Hill rolls, pie, cake, and ice cream. And, some years the date changed, for example, organizers postponed the 1924 C.P.A Picnic until September because they couldn't schedule a band, speaker, and other attractions..

Fred Walker, Eudora C.P.A. secretary for many years, said the last Eudora group to pay C.P.A. dues was in 1927. In 1928 the organization gave up its lodge affiliation and became the C.P.A. Picnic Committee. Judging from all known resources, the Eudora lodge concentrated on social functions rather than criminal round-ups. (Members did get involved in area timber wolf and coyote hunts. These organized hunts used “lines” of C.P.A. members to flush out their prey. At a set time the hunt opened with the human square “line corners” advance with “centers” lagging about fifteen minutes behind. “Just about the last hunt went through our place,” Dorothy Westerhouse, 2375 N. 800 Rd., said. “That was 1971 when we were building our house. A line of cars and dogs came through and you could see the coyote. It was worn out. Then they put fresh dogs on it. The coyote disappeared into a ravine, and, then, came streaking out, all full of energy. The dogs took after that coyote. Pretty soon, after the hunters had gone, that tired old coyote came out of the ravine, limping. Seems like another coyote had been hiding in there, and that’s the one the dogs took off after.”)

C. P. A. Picnics: The Next 50 Years. Year after year, picnic organizers promised that the “Horse Thieves never do things by halves” and strived to maintain an entertaining program that brought together friends and neighbors from Leavenworth, Johnson, Franklin, and Wyandotte counties.

“People wore their best clothes to the Picnic,” said Maxine Miller McCabria, 2208 N. 1226 Rd. “My mother never let me wear my new school clothes before school started. But I could pick one of them and wear it to the Picnic.” At the same time the Douglas County C.P.A. held its own summer picnic with carnival rides, ball games, big platform dances, and other activities.

For years the Eudora Picnic took place on August weekdays. Smaller day-time crowds swelled to a couple of thousand providing it didn’t rain or wasn’t too hot. So popular was the Picnic that area businesses closed to let employees attend it. To stoke the crowds, C.P.A. boosters formed their own club that distributed handbills and posters in surrounding towns. The C.P.A. booster club piled up by the car load accompanied by the Eudora Community band to lure citizens of Desoto, Edgerton, Wellsville, Baldwin, Vinland, and Lawrence to the Picnic.

The booster club received enthusiastic receptions promoting the Picnic. On one jaunt the group played a couple of pieces in Vinland and “got royally treated to ice cold pop by W. E. Hoskinson, proprietor of Star Cash Store.” After Baldwin, and Edgerton stops, the “treats were in order at the Alexander Drug Store” in Gardner. At Olathe the band played in the city square where the crowd applauded their version of “The Old Grey Mare.” At DeSoto, their last stop, the group once again got treated, this time by the town mayor.

In the days before television and mass media overkill, political speakers drew in C.P.A. crowds like magic. Charles F. Scott, lola, a former U. S. senator, came to the Picnic in 1935 and “frequently condemned the inconsistent tactics of the present Democratic administration.” During his address, the crowd broke into applause several times interrupting his Democrat bashing. Omar Ketchum, former Topeka mayor and senatorial aspirant, drew a crowd, saying he stood for the New Deal and President Franklin Roosevelt. He did not have the same nice words for Kansas governor Alf T. Landon.

U.S. Guyer, Congressmen second district, held his listeners spellbound the next year as he passionately criticized the New Deal and warned that everything was leading to one-man power unless voters started sending men to Congress who would refused to be “yes men.” He blamed a Secretary Wallace for wheat over production, which cut the price of wheat to 15 cents. Just warming up, he followed by saying taxes hovered at the destruction point with government spending $2 for every $1 taken in. After his address, the crowd lined up to shake his hand.

Political speakers got the crowd worked up, but they weren’t the only invited orators. The Kansas State Penitentiary warden, awed Picnic-goers when he said that of the 1,000 state prisoners, 300 of them farmers and 250 boys under age. His first visit to Eudora, the warden said, was when Wilbur Underhill and his gang escaped, taking him along as prisoner, later releasing him near the Oklahoma line. One might suspect that Mrs. H. E. Don Carlos, Lawrence , had a tough time following that story when she presented her talk, “This Kansas of Ours.”

Parades are and were a main attraction of the C.P.A. Picnic. People rode bicycles and ponies in the procession, and small children made the elders smile, such as the Zimmerman children’s first-prize entry of the “burial of old man Depression” 1934 entry. Eudorans really put their energies into floats. Merchants triumphed their products. Organizations, such as the A.0.U.W. Lodge and auxiliary, rolled down town streets laden with waving members. At least one year, the Ku Klux Klan, which met east of Eudora at Eisle’s Grove (and later at Caveness farm), even had a float complete with hooded Klan members; however, during the 1920s the Klan in the Midwest targeted Catholics and "foreigner" as its objects of hostility. Merchants and organizations took a back seat at the July 31, 1930 parade, which featured a car contest with prizes for best decorated and most tackiest. Fifty cars entered to win the $15 first prize.

For years, the C.P.A. booked booths and concessions that paid $5, $10, or $20 for space at the picnic. Concession funds helped defray the expenses of booking a carnival, which cost between $200-300. One year, a C.P.A. member learned that Wayne Hales’ Kansas City carnival would actually pay a profit percentage to set up at the carnival. For the first time, the C.P.A. made a significant profit from the Picnic. A Ferris wheel joined the sole merry-go-round, and in 1929, “kiddy rides” delighted youngsters.

“The biggest thrill were the rides because they went through the trees,” Rex Burkhardt, 934 Pine Street, said. “To ride the Ferris wheel and see the whole town through the trees. . .neon lights, the bugs, and sometimes the only place to catch the breeze.”

True excitement lit the crowds when the afternoon races began. Youths and adults competed separately testing their speed by foot, bicycle, egg carrying, wheelbarrow pushing, and events such as auto obstacles, shuttles, and bicycle potato races. Contests at the Picnic also spurred on adrenaline rushes. Organizers tested picnic-goers’ broad jumping, ball throwing, shot put, and other athletic prowess. “One year, before Toby’s, the carnival truck broke down,” Glen Wineinger, 1439 Main Street , said. “We had a ball-throwing game, and we made so much money on that, because there was nothing else to do.”

Most events focused on individuals, and there were games requiring no muscle power, such as bingo games. “They had bingo in this great big tent, as big as city hail,” Alma Broers, 2203 N. 1420 Rd., said. “You got so many cards for a quarter. The prizes were just junk. I probably still have some in my garage.” Team events included tug-of-war (teams from different towns) or the ever-popular softball and baseball games between neighboring towns.

A bit of whimsy came into play when skills required talent in “wife calling,” ladies’ shoe kicking, greased pig catching, ladies rolling pin throwing, or the string chewing contest for boys. “I really liked those old-time games,” Don Durkin, 722 Ash Street, said. “The greased pig contest was my favorite. They greased the pig up with something like Crisco, let him loose, and kids chased him. He was slippery. It was more a contest of intelligence than speed. You let everyone else chase and corner him, then you jumped in to get him.”

Said Rex Burkhardt, “I remember the 3-legged races, the bathtub full of flour and coins where I once pulled out five silver dollars, and the greased pole contest. The grease was pitch black, like tar. I don’t know how those guys got up there. Oh, and the hog- calling contest. You could hear them calling from my house, four blocks away. Once I heard my grandma calling: She won that year. They all pretty much called the same, Sooooooeee, pig; Sooooooeee, hog. Harold Gabriel was one of the best hog callers around.”

Also featured were old standbys (largest family), agricultural skills (e.g.. tallest corn stalk), or musical abilities, such as the old fiddlers’ contest. One year a black Angus cow was given to the person who came closest to guessing its weight.

An amateur talent contest showcased area residents’ unique abilities. Ruth Ott, Eudora, won the 1935 talent show with a vocal solo, followed by a Lawrence tap dance and song group. Honorable mention went to a Stull accordion soloist, two more tap dancers, and an acrobatic dance duo from Eudora. The 1948 contest, organized by Herman Bohnsack, featured a Spanish tap dance, clarinet solos by Harry Edwards and Margaret Westerhouse, flute and piano solos by Carol Weidensaul and Barbara Spitzli, readings by Mrs. Daisy Ames and Mrs. William Young, a violin duet by Jim and Joe Wilson, and other acts.

“The talent shows, my kids were in it for years, but I can’t remember exactly what they did,” Fern Long, 620 Elm Street, said. “Nell Trefz yodeled for years, and I remember the year Ann and Bill Mercier danced in the rain.

Music played a big part in crowd entertainment. Dixie Four, Ottawa Entertainers and other bands played during the day sandwiched in between magicians, picture shows, Punch and Judy shows, acrobatic performances (some on trampoline), radio personality visits, hot air balloons, square dances, and one-time events, such as the popular Lawrence Drum and Bugle Corps display. In 1927, the Boys Industrial School of Topeka amused the crowd with its band, boxers, jazz dancers, and singers.

“There was also this little booth you went into and came out with a long strip of photos,” Lois (Zeisenis) Neis, 940 E. 2100 Rd., said. “Most were absolutely awful. You gave them to your friends, and they gave their photo to you.”

At night, dance band orchestras headed by Cap Cox, Louie Kuhn, and Johnny Youngberg performed for the “big platform” dances as churches served dinners. Each year, C. P. A. members labored to build a dance platform, which was torn down after each picnic and stored in the Lothholz lumber yard, according to Kermit Broers. Later, the city took over the job and put down a cement platform by the gazebo.

Current C.P.A. Picnics. Some things don’t change. Churches still serve dinners, the lady nail driving contest pops up from time to time, and friends and family renew relationships at the picnic. The one-day Picnic switched to two (in 1929), and then three days to allow the carnival more days to run. For many years held on the third weekend of July, the event changed to the fourth weekend in July as of 2003 to accommodate the amusement company’s schedule. C.P.A. members left the oyster suppers behind for an annual steak dinner after the picnic.

Cotton candy and sno-cones have replaced ice cream as the crowd treat, while lemonade has lost out to soda pop. A different church each year continues to serve dinner for about 300 diners with equally long lines at the carnival food booth aglow with fast food treats.

“We used to serve chicken dinners with mashed potatoes and some kind of vegetable,” Norma Gienau, 2072 N. 1369 Rd., said. “Now, it’s hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and pie. There’s always pie.”

“It once rained our night to serve food. The next day we had a church full of pie,” Lois Neis said.

“They used to serve the food in a tent without sides. The first time I came to the picnic,” Marjorie Gronniger, 1402 Main, said. “I brought my potato salad. It poured, and we didn’t sell a thing.”

Various community groups staff a booth or event each year, such as the Lion’s dunk tank, the EMT fund-raisers, Little League soda pop sales, or the 4-H cow patty bingo benefit for the Eudora Public Library. The Eudora Area Historical Society members staff a booth, too. The big parade has split into two parades. On Friday nights, the Children’s Parade kicks off activities with Disney creations, clowns, covered wagons, and other parental masterpieces with money prizes awarded to the top ten entries for originality. Everyone’s a winner, however, when organizers give each child entry tickets for carnival rides. Decorated tricycles and bicycles have given away to ornate floats, which has its own judging category.

“There’s so many more kids in the parade. It’s pretty elaborate. Sometimes I wonder whether that is good or bad,” Rita Conner, 1038 Walnut, said. “The first year my son and his wife came back from Texas, my grandson, Matt, age 5 then, asked us to come up with a Batmobile for the parade. He stepped into it, walked the parade, and got first prize. He thought that car was wonderful. It took the whole family to get that car made: Grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, even Aunt Deb helped.”

Adults take over Main Street Saturday night. Floats line up by the Santa Fe grounds with horses, fire engines, political candidates, high school reunion classes, and organization floats (for example, the United Methodist’s Onward Christian Soldiers’ hay wagon, the Pack 3064 Cub Scouts and their fishing poles, the Eudora Soccer League), on their parade to the Eudora Nursing Center.

In 1976, the Bicentennial celebration co-opened with the C.P.A. Picnic. The town parade included an old fire truck, engine display, color guards, 13 colony flag display (two made by Mrs. Lloyd Brecheisen), Salem Chapel depiction carried by Youth Service Organization float, Douglas County Trail Riders, and Constitution Hall first-prize entry. Local merchants sponsoring the parade entry prize money were: Herb Miner Bargain Center, Howard’s Super Saver, Taylor Truck Lines, Market Basket, Bryne’s Pharmacy, Broers Auto Sales, Wilson Trucking, Eudora Meat Market, and C.P.A. Picnic Association.

“When the Centennial and the C.P.A. were at the same time, my mom made me a reversible vest, and we all looked like Wyatt Earp with our six-shooters,” Rex Burkhardt said. “They made a make-believe bar for us kids—the Maple Leaf Bar—and we went in for our red eye and sarsaparilla, probably strawberry pop and kool aid. Two doors from City Hall they cooked this huge buffalo. It was scary to see a 700-pound buffalo just roasting away.

The first sign of the C.P.A. Picnic is the portable toilets lined against the fire station. (“One of my jobs as a C.P.A. member,” Kermit Broers, 2203 N. 1420 Rd., said, “was to dig the holes for the rest rooms. We dug holes chest-deep and built an outhouse over them. You piled up the dirt behind the holes, then leveled it out when the Picnic was over. The outhouses were behind the trees, in the junior high school parking lot, where the busses are parked now. We can thank Bob Neis for getting rid of those outhouses and getting us these toilets.”)

Toby’s Amusements, from Arma, Kansas, spends days in advance to set up their ticket-gobbling Spider, slides, bumper cars, merry-go-round, revolving motorcycles, and bopping boats for the Thursday night opening on the school parking lot. In 1972, Toby’s introduced the Zipper, a challenge to Eudora youth. “We used to see who could flip the Zipper the most,” Michele (Noble) Cleveland, 112 E. Sixth Street, said. “The street was blocked off, and the Zipper was by where the car wash is now. We’d sit on the hill and count. My two friends and I did it a 100 times in a row.

“Everything used to be in the park,” said Brigitte (Lothholz) Pringle, N. 1500 Rd. “Now it’s in the parking lot, and there’s things other places, like at the swimming pool.

Carnival workers beg for passerby’s attention with the lures of easy prizes as children and parents often lose each other in the flowing streams of people. Then Toby’s disappears within hours after the last Saturday night ride. Adult contests, the very few, have featured shuffleboard, running, golf, volleyball, or other athletics. Depending on the events organizer, children compete to be the best baby crawler, balloon breaker, egg thrower, hula hoopist, basketball dribbler, ping pong ball bobber, bike rodeo rider, or bubble blower. Some contests aren’t contests at all, such as digging through flour for money, because every child is a guaranteed winner. In 1971, frogs and turtles did the children’s work when they hopped and rambled in grandstand races.

On Friday nights, The Intrigues, Darren and the Dudes, Carlie Abel, Little Joe and Wiseman, Red Hot Prairie Dogs, and others have taken the stage. Technology has also introduced Karoake and disc jockeys to the music entertainment. “I like the karoke. It’s fun. Some people are really good,” Erin Schehrer, 503 E. Seventh Street , said.

The musical flavor takes a country western turn on Saturday nights as Little Joe and the Wisemen, Arnie Johnson, The Happy Wanderers, Dewey Richardson, Dwane Richardson and the Richman Express. Over Easy, and Thunder Rose turn on the tunes for the Picnic’s “street dance.”

“In my younger days, my in-laws would watch the kids so my wife and I could go dance there Saturday night,” Tom Pyle, 1623 Elm Street , said. “Dewey Richardson and his bunch ― they were good. It was the best time of your whole life.”

Every year organizers introduce a new twist to events. In 1974, different age groups competed in softball throwing, football punting and passing, and free throw shooting. That event was followed by 44 pony pulling teams (teams pulling bricks) and mule jump on the Nottingham School grounds. President Ken Lawson said the festival “wasn’t quite as big as could be because of the heat.” The temperature that day was 104 degrees.

Jerry Trober, C.P.A. Picnic 1997 president, said that many people don’t know that C.P.A. Picnic members (about 60 members) use their soda pop concession proceeds to fund area activities. “Every year, we ask what group needs something done. We fund the senior prom, Mayor’s Christmas Tree, emergency medical services, EYSO, 4-H, and started two scholarships at the high school years ago.” In 1996, the group paid for town cemetery flags.

A sampling of event winners:

1908
Young Lady’s Foot Race: Mary Schehrer, 1st; Pearl Hetrick, 2nd
Egg Race: Aileen Richards, 1st; Erna Ziesenis, 2nd
Fat Man Race, 225 lbs. and over: Cal Sizer, 1st; Elliot Penner, 2nd
Foot Race, Boys under 10: Walter Payne, 1st; P. Neis, 2nd
Lady’s Hitching Contest: Airle Roberts, 1st; Aileen Richards, 2nd
Oldest Married Couple: Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Hill, 39 yrs.
Pie Eating Contest: Chas. Everly
Largest Family, on grounds: Joseph Schopper (10), T. 0. White, 2nd

1909
Ladies Nail Driving Contest: Airy Watson, 1st; Sarah Brecheisen & Alma Schubert, 2nd
Young Man’s Race: Will Reeves, 1st; Ralph Davis, 2nd
Young Ladies Foot Race: Ethel Martin, 1st; Rose Worchester, 2nd
Best Team of Draft Horses: Chas. Kaiser, 1st; Chas. Gabriel, 2nd
Sandwich Eating Contest: Clarence Leffman, 1st; Charlie Everly, 2nd
Fat Man Race: J. F. Hiddleston

1911
Largest Family, on grounds: Mr. and Mrs. Matt Grosdidier (8)
Oldest Married Couple, on grounds: Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ziesnenis (52 yrs.)
Egg Race, Girls: Alice Schehrer, 1st; Elma Schehrer, 2nd

1931
Fat Man Race: Henry Eisele, Reno
Women Shoe Kicking contest: Mrs. Roy Daugherty, Leavenworth 2nd

1935
Boys’ Foot Race, 10 years and under: Jackie Mohier, 1st; Joseph Votaw, 2nd
Boys’ Foot Race, Free for all, under 15 years: Earl Reusch, 1st; Joseph Votaw, 2nd
Girls’ Race, 10 years and under: Katherine Zimmerman, 1st; Arlene Bagsby, 2nd
Girls’ Race, Free for all, 15 years and under: Maxine Reusch, 1st; Hazel Hackworth, 2nd
Boys’ Bicycle Race, 12 years and under: Leo Rothberger, 1st; Delbert Brown, 2nd
Boys’ Bicycle Race, Free for all: Earl Neis, 1st; Howard Trefz, 2nd; Clarence Mohler, 3rd
Old Fiddlers’ Contest: Will Howe, 1st, Clarence Crane, 2nd

1936
Boys’ Foot Race, 10 years and under: Gene West, 1st; James Logan, 2nd Boys’ Foot Race, 16 years and Under: Clyde Rush, 1st; Earl Rush, 2nd
Girls’ Foot Race, 8 years and under: Pauline Grant, 1st; Maxine Logan 2nd Girls’ Race, Free for all: Doris Winters, 1st; Maxine Rush, 2nd
Ladies’ Nail Driving Contest: Mrs. Robert Zipp, 1st; Mrs. Argel Cochrun, 2nd

1937
Foot Race, Under age 6: Raymond Stanley, 1st; Delbert Seiwald, 2nd Foot Race, Boys under 10: Kenneth Rush, 1st; Homer Turner, 2nd
Foot Race, Boys free for all, 16 and under: Robert Neustifter, 1st; Richard Turner, 2nd
Foot Race, Girls under 10: Bernadine Mohler, 1st; Georgia Votaw, 2nd
Girls Foot Race, Free for all, 16 and under: Katherine Zimmerman, 1st; Maxine Logan, 2nd
Girls’ Bicycle Race, 15 and under: Katherine Zimmerman, 1st; Geraldine Houk, 2nd
Three-Legged Race, Boys 14 and under: George and Edward Schopper; Billy Ray Trefz and Jackie Mohler, 2nd
Auto Casing Race: Girls 14 and under: Maxine Logan, 1st; Pauline Grant, 2nd
Boys’ Bicycle Race, 10 and under: Harold Zimmerman, 1st, Donald Seiwald, 2nd
Boys’ Bicycle Race, 16 and under: Robert Trefz, 2nd
Bicycle Potato Race, 16 and under: Robert Trefz, 2nd
Ladies’ Nail Driving Contest: Mrs. Roy Daugherty, 1st; Mrs. Frank Neis, 2nd
Auto Obstacle Race: Henry Hoesler, 1st; Robert Eisele, 2nd

1938
Foot Race, Boys 10 years and under: Homer Turner, 1st; Marvin Ellard, 2nd
Foot Race, 6 and under: Delbert Seiwald, 1st; Johnny Harris, 2nd
Foot Race, Boys 13 years and under: Richard Turner, 1st; Fred Chance, 2nd
Foot Race, Boys 16 years and under: Guy McClarry, 1st; Fred Chance, 2nd
Foot Race, Girls under 10: Virginia Mitchell, 1st; Marie Rothberger, 2nd
Foot Race, Girls free (or all, 16 and under: Pauline Grant, 1st; Maxine Logan, 2nd
Bicycle Race, Boys 10 and under: Donald Seiwald, 1st; John David Nieder, 2nd
Bicycle Race, Boys 13 and under: Buford Musser, 1st; Junior Henley, 2nd
Bicycle Race, Boys 16 and under: Frank Howe, 1st; Fred Turner, 2nd
Bicycle Race, Girls 16 and under: Katherine Zimmerman, 1st; Joan Bartz, 2nd
Sack Race: James Logan, 1st; Kenneth Goldsby, 2nd
Bicycle Potato Race: Buford Musser, 1st: Leo Rotheberger, 2nd
Three-Legged Race, Boys 14 and under: Napoleon Grant and Russell McDaniel, 1st; Leo Rothberger and Leroy Stone, 2nd
Auto Casing Race: Pauline Grant, 1st; Maxine Logan, 2nd
Tall Corn: Ben Bartz (14’, 8”)
Ladies Nail Driving Contest: Mrs. Holladay, 1st; Mrs. Gertie Steffen, 2nd

1939
Foot Race, Boys under 12: Billy York, 1st; Dean Kirkman, 2nd
Foot Race, Girls under 12: Elva Abels, 2nd; Louise Abels, 2nd
Shuttle Races, Boys under 16: Leonard Chause and Dean York, Bill Kirkman and Joe Gurss, 2nd
Shuttle Race, Girls under 16: June Dodson, Virginia Mitchell, and Dorothy Halloway, 1st
Shuttle Race, Mixed, under 12: Donald Seiwald, Carol Shopper, and Natalie Weixeldorfer, 1st
Bicycle Race, Boys under 16: Billy Underwood, 1st; Guy McCleery, 2nd Bicycle Race, Girls under 16: Dorothy Weixeldorfer, 1st; Christine Eisele, 2nd
Broad Jump, Boys under 16: Vernon Smith, 1st; Leonard Weeks, 2nd Ball Throwing, Girls under 16: Mildred Vitt, 1st, Alice Fuhs, 2nd Ladies’ Nail Driving Contest: Peggy Hale, 1st; Edna Holmes, 2nd
Husband Calling: Mrs. Argil Cochrrun
Wife Calling: Leslie De Merritt

1940
Foot Race, Boys under 12: Carrol Shopper, 1st; Nels Freeman, Jr., 2nd Foot Race, Girls under 12: Mary Ann Schoppper, 1st; Alberta Schopper, 2nd
Mixed Race, 12 and Under: Donald Seiwald, 1st; Ruth Abel, 2nd Egg Carrying Contest: Mrs. Holliday, 1st; Ruby Parker, 2nd Pie Eating Contest: James Howe, 1st: Elmer Hickman, 2nd
Bicycle Race, Boys under 16: Bill Underwood, 1st: George Schopper, 2nd Bicycle Race, Girls under 16: Carolyn Lemon, 1st: Dorothy Weixeldorfer, 2nd
Ladies Rolling Pin Throwing: Dolly Fuhs, 1st; Mrs. J. M. Holliday, 2nd
String Chewing Contest, Boys under 12: James Barnett, 1st: Arthur Grosdidier and Jackie Taber, tied for 2nd
Blind Driving Contest: Laverne Guenther, 1st; Charles Fuhs, 2nd

1974
Best Decorated Bike: Robin Sieber, 1st; Mike Becker, 2nd; James Becker, 3rd
Mock Track Meet: Kenny Englebrecht, Roberta Pyle, Ricky Shanks, Lisa Katzfey
Balloon Relay: Pat Pyle, Ricky Shanks, Jeff Gabriel, Chris Parsons, Roberta Pyle, Jimmy Hoover, Chris Darr
Egg Throwing Contest, 13 and Under: Tom and Pat Pyle, 1st; Vicki Anderson and Kay Cawley, 2nd; Janet Noble and Judy Potts, 3rd
Egg Throwing Contest, 13 and over: Don Born and Don Grosdidier, 1st; Michele Noble and Lynn Wilson, 2nd; Gary Oltmann and Micky Dardis, 3rd
Softball Throw, 8 and under: Doug Darr, 1st; Steve Cawley, 2nd

1975
Bike Rodeo, Snail Race, Older: Dwight Folks, 1st, Billy Whitten, 2nd
Bike Rodeo, Speed/Figure Race, Older: Dwight Folks, 1st Bike Rodeo, Speed/Figure Race, Younger: Dennis Fry, 1st Double S Curve Snail Race, Older: Mitch Massey, 1st Double S Curve Snail Race, Younger: Bill Whitten, 1st

1978
Children’s Parade: in order, Grand-4th prize: Roger Stone, Jacque and Jamie Spitzli and Denise Atkinson, Raquan Seiber Shauna Higginbotham, Matt Grosdidier, Shawn Bailey
Grand Parade: in order, Grand-3rd prize, Eudora 4-H, Eudora Red Sox Ball Team, Eudora Youth Organization, Dew Drop Inn/DeSoto
Shuffleboard Contest, Boys Doubles: Tommy Pyle and Eddie Pyle, 1st; Pat Pyle and Mark Grosdidier, 2nd
Shuffleboard Contest, Girls Doubles: Ann Grosdidier and Luci Grosdidier, 1st; Roberta Pyle and Julie Pyle, 2nd
Skateboard Contest: 13-15 years, Tommy Pyle, 1st; Bill Whitten, 2nd
Skateboard Contest: 10-12 years, David Higgenbotham, 1st; Dean Percival, 2nd; Julie Pyle, 3rd
Men’s Horsehoes: Wesley Schendel, 1st; Marshall Hogue, 2nd; Tommy Pyle, 3rd, Billy Fulks, 4th

 KNOWN PICNIC COMMITTEE MEMBERS

1901
J. E. Dolisi, President; Ernest Gerstenberger, Vice-President; C. Gabriel, Secretary; Gus Fiehier, Treasurer; C. F. Richards, Captain; C. Gabriel, Delegate to Grand Lodge; J. E. Dolis,: Alternate Delegate

1907
General: C. Schaake, C. Gabriel, L. Walters
Speakers: C. F. Richards
Amusements: Gus Ziesenis, J. E. Dolisi, F. Gerstenberger, Link Walters, C. Gabriel, L. Schaake
Grounds: John Ott, S. Schneider, C. Gabriel, John Miller
Dance: C. F. Richards, E. E. Wilson, John Dolisi
Advertising: Gus Ziesenis, E. E. Wilson

1912
Floats/Auto: J. E. Dolisi
Horseback Riders: J. B. Miller

1913
Committee: C. F. Richards, John Moody, Chas. Gabriel, John Dolisi, George Schubert, Link Walters, Don Westheffer, Al Durr, Frank Schopper, Clark Kendall, Sam Snyder, George Broers, Will Altenbernd

1927
Charles Gabriel: President
Fred Walker: Secretary
L. M. Walter: Treasurer

1936
F. 0. Hughes: President
L. M. Walters: Treasurer
Harold Daugherty: Secretary
Sports/Races: Will Zimmerman, C. S. Fuller, J. D. Adams, George Broers
Concessions: Fred Walker, Edwin Schubert, Fred Bartz
Dance: C. S. Fuller, William Zimmerman, J. D. Adams, Don Westheffer, Ray Ogden
Speakers: L. M. Walters, John Miller, Ray Ogden
Advertising: J. B. Miller, George Broers, Charles Schehrer, J. D. Adams, Will Stadler
Grounds: Ed Bohnsack, C. E. Crane, Guy Grimes, Fred Bartz

1937
Jack Hughes: President
L. M. “Link” Walters: Treasurer
Harold Daugherty: Secretary
Sports/Races: Will Zimmerman, Clarence Fuller, Delbert Adams, George Bartz, Don Westhefer
Speakers: L. M. Walters
Advertsising: John Miller, Will Stadler, Ray Ogden, Delbert Adams
Concessions: Harold Duagherty, Fred Bartz, Otto Rosenau, Edw. Bohnsack
Dance: C. S. Fuller, Will Zimmerman, J. D. Adams, Otto Mignot, Ray Ogden
Grounds: Ed Bohnsack, Clarence Crane, Fred Bartz

1938
Sports/’Races: Will Zimmerman, Delbert Adams, Clarence Fuller, George Bartz
Grounds: Ed Bohnsack, Clarence Crane, Fred Bartz
Advertising: John Miller, Will Stadler
Dance: Delbert Adams, Will Zimmerman, Clarence Fuller, Don Westheffer, Ray Ogden, Otto Mignot
Speakers: L. N. Walters, John Miller
Entertainment: Ray Ogden, Don Westhefer, Delbert Adams

1939
Francis Hughes: President
William Zimmerman: Vice-President
Harold Daugherty: Secretary
L. M. Walters: Treasurer
Grounds: Ed Bohnsack, Clarence Crane, John Miller, Fred Bartz
Sports/Races: John Miller, Ray Ogden, George Bartz, L. M. Walter
Concessions: Harold Daugherty, William Zimmerman, Clarence Crane, William Mertz
Entertainment: J. D. Adams, C. S. Fuller, Don Westhefer, Gottlieb Neider
Dance: William Zimmerman, Otto Mignot, Ray Ogden, George Bartz, Arthur Bernitz, William Mercier
Advertising: C. S. Fuller, Harold Daugherty, Will Stadler, Fred Bartz
Loud Address System: George Bartz, Ray Ogden

1940
F. G. Hughes: President
William Zimmerman: Vice-President
L. M. Walters: Treasurer
Harold Daugherty: Secretary
Grounds: Ed Bohnsack, John Miller, Fred Bartz, Allen Westerhouse
Concessions: Harold Daugherty, William Zimmerman, William Mercer
Dance: William Zimmerman, Otto Mignot, Ray Ogden, J. D. Adams, William Mercier, Keith Starr
Sports/Races: Ray Ogden, John Miller, Don Westheffer, L. N. Walters, Keith Starr
Free Acts: J. D. Adams, George Bartz, Everett Elmore, Herman Bohn
Advertising: Everett Elmore, George Bartz, Arthur Bernitz
Public Address System: George Bartz, Ray Ogden
Speakers: William Zimmerman, L. M. Walters

1971
Bob Massey: President
Dennis Hoy: Vice-President
Leo Lauber: Secretary
Jim Hoover: Treasurer
Lowell Henderson: Entertainment
Kermit Broers: Pony Pull

1972
Ken Lawson: President
Greg Neis: Vice-President
Rick Strong: Secretary
Trig Oleson: Treasurer

1973
Homer Broers: Parade Chairman

1975
Ken Lawson: President
Picnic Committee: Trig Oleson, Bob Slapar, Cecil Robinson, Clobert Noble, Lowell Henderson, Pete Lawson

1978
Parade Committee: Ron Lee, Norman Musick, Cecil Robinson

1985
Lowell Henderson: Chairmain

1997
Jerry Trober: President (since 1987)
Jim Hoover, Jr.: Vice-President
Bob Slaper: Secretary (since 1973)
Stan Byrne: Treasurer (since 1973)
Parade Committee: Mark Reynolds, Trig Oleson Jim Hoover, Sr.: Booth assignment
Ernie Simon: Entertainment
Dave Durkin: Press

Copyright 2014. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.