By Naomi Hatch
The annual Taylor Independence Day celebration began with the Country Music Cowboy Poetry program on Friday evening.
“We’re a little community, but we celebrate in a big way,” said Eddie Hancock, who oversaw the festivities.
Jay and Lynn Whipple received a pair of spurs for their service. Mitch Farr, president of the Taylor Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told how Jay served on the Taylor Town Council and as mayor, noting that the Whipples are always giving, always contributing. Jay manages the Taylor Stake Cattle Ranch with Lynn by his side, cooking for all the cowboys.
Receiving the Top Hand Award were Dave and Bonnie Wood for the many hours they have cooked and worked for the town, and Town Engineer Stu Spaulding for the work he has done to improve Rodeo Park and Main Street.
Ray Flake began the program by reciting The Ragged Ole Flag, Mountain Saddle Band entertained for 30 minutes, then local talent performed music and poetry.
The Saturday festivities began at 4 a.m. at the Taylor Ball Field with the blasting of the anvil. By 5 a.m. a large group had gathered and they stopped at the traditional places, Freeman Park, the LDS Stake Center and back to Taylor Ball Field, where the races began with a blast of the anvil.
It sprinkled on and off, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending. The Jennings Band played and the anvil blasted over and over.
The Patriotic Program filled the cultural hall as many came to celebrate. The decorations were beautiful, thanks to Bobbie Sue Solomon and her committee.
Mayor Fay Hatch said that as he watched the hall fill with those coming to celebrate the Constitution, his heart was full. He spoke of the spirit that is in this community and how grateful he is for the many volunteers who give of their time freely to make this celebration a success.
He then gave a brief history of the two couples inducted into the Taylor Hall of Fame, Norman and Vicky Baldwin, and Kirk and Wendy Brimhall.
The Baldwins volunteered many hours in serving others. Norman has been in the Boy Scouts of America program for many years, earning the Silver Beaver award. He also served the youth in the Singles Adult Ward of the LDS church. He coached kids’ baseball and softball team, and made an impression on his children’s friends as he played soccer with them. He worked through many different owners and name changes at what is now Lumbermens. Vicky sacrificed all her life, enjoying children and serving women in the LDS Relief Society. She was concerned about the safety of children crossing Main Street to get to school and so she worked to get a crosswalk installed. Her children were taught to take goodies to the elderly, especially on Halloween, and one of her favorite things was to “knock and run,” leaving treats or money at many homes.
The Brimhalls spent many hours making Taylor beautiful and expanding businesses. Kirk has a great love and deep respect for our pioneers, and worked to expand businesses by bringing Silver Creek Plaza, which included a pharmacy, to Taylor. He helped to make Main Street beautiful and took much joy in being part of the Taylor-Shumway Heritage Foundation, especially with his involvement in the Hancock Log Cabin and the Taylor Museum.
Chaplain of the Day was Pastor Dave Marshall, who opened and closed the program.
The Jennings Band played some foot stomping, hand clapping music. For approximately 60 years, Lenn Shumway has been conducting the Jennings Band and even became part of Vance Muder’s Stump Speech, along with government and several others in politics.
Orator of the Day was Major General Donald C. Ralph, who has served his country for 37 years all over the world.
“America is unique unto all others and stands out as a great beacon of hope for all the world,” he said.
“Freedom is not free,” said Ralph, noting he grew up with a desire to serve this land.
He met his wife Kathy when he trained in Arizona. She is the daughter of Dale Shumway and they have been married for 31 years.
One of his missions in the Air Force is protecting American citizens through firefighting, and he gave honor to those firefighters who gave their life in the Yarnell Hill fire.
Ralph told how several years ago he flew over Taylor, over the home of Elizabeth Shumway, his wife’s grandmother, in a B1 bomber and waved his wings.
He was squad commander of the famous Hurricane Hunters and flew into the eye of hurricanes. Because of these flights, they were able to give early warnings, saving millions of people. “The efforts of the Hurricane Hunters help maintain peace of our nation,” he said. “The best part about America is people are willing to stand up and take action,” noting his last flights were into Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. He said that the eye wall of Rita came down on the airplane and imploded, taking the speed down from 240 mph to 110 mph.
His current assignment has taken him to Germany for the past 2½ years, where he is in harms way covering Africa, the Middle East and Europe, protecting Americans. He noted that the goal is “keeping threats from Americans.”
He spoke of the 56 men who stood against tyranny, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and their willingness to sacrifice all they had for mankind.
“We need to be vigilant and stand up for our freedoms wherever we can,” he said. “Freedom can be easily taken away from us.”
“Criticism is not the way to improve our land, service is the way to improve it,” said the general.
Once again the rodeo drew a huge crowd filling the bleachers, the fireworks were awesome and the dance was a great success.
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By Naomi Hatch