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Western theme hits target at Dayton Daze

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Of all the small town celebrations that fill weekend calendars throughout summer, Dayton Daze dazzles with simplicity.

Neighbors gather around the town pub, sharing laughs and drinks with folks they kicked a ball with in kindergarten. Dance hall girls stroll the streets and parade through town. Rhinestone belts hold up embellished jeans tucked into cowboy boots, a hat keeping the gals looking and feeling cool.

A handful of tourists, curious enough to follow the hand-written road signs off the highway, stand out in the crowd as the parade circles the .5 square-mile, eclectic town punctuated by dry-docked sailboats.

For a tiny place, the parade is impressive.

A chuckwagon bearing a sideways S was followed by a “herd of cows” — a group of good-natured seniors who exercise regularly together. The wagon is a replica of one used by Lazy S Ranch in the late 1890’s by Delbert Hawkins’ grandfather in Proctor. As they pass by the judges, the “cows” bribe them with cartons of milk.

Blowing bubbles from her cast-iron tub, “Un-Soiled Dove” Rachel Schreiner rode in the parade with her “Madame” supervising.

The Mergenthaler family sat atop handmade paper horses while, 4-year-old Jude, the lone male, served soda pop on their Idle Spur replica parade float.

Kiera Heffner, 6, rode one of her miniature horses down Main Street. It was her first time in the saddle — in a parade, that is.  Heffner’s mom, Kristy, had Kiera riding horses when she barely able to sit up at six months old. Sitting confidently atop Oreo on Saturday, Heffner looked every bit a true blue cowgirl in her jeans, plaid shirt and cowboy hat.

“She grew up in the saddle. She didn’t even have to dress up for this; it’s her normal attire,” Kristy said.

Don Clauson’s attire was a bit warm for the sunny afternoon, but the buckskin suit and raccoon hat gave him a timeless look.

“It’s boring driving a fire truck,” Clauson, assistant fire chief at Rollins Volunteer Fire Department said, preferring to ride the mustang he’s had for 12 years.

Four-year-old Faryn Veach scooped up parade candy by the handful.

“She wanted to be in the parade, but hey, she’s isn’t sad anymore,” her mom said of her cheerful candy grabber.

Throughout the day, visitors could peruse the church bazaar or sit at the bar; sail on the lake or sample the vineyard’s take. 

After the parade, live music and a barbecue continued long after the half-moon rose on the bayside community.

Dayton Daze is held each year as a fundraiser for the Chief Cliff Volunteer Fire Department. Ron McDowell of Rollins was the winner of the raffle for a Remington 770/.270 Caliber Rifle with 3x9 scope, sling and case.

This year’s participation was up from previous years, most likely because of the added element of costuming with the theme, “Old West Heroes and Legends,” according to event organizer Zoe Lilja.

“It made a huge difference this year, both with respect to the floats that were entered in the parade …  and the amount of money we raised. This was our best year ever for fundraising,” Lilja said.

“We had a great group (small, but dedicated) working to generate interest, sell raffle tickets, and organize the event. We’re hoping for even bigger and better things next year.”

Next year, the theme will be “Gangsters and Molls and the Roaring ‘20s.” Participants will have an entire year to work on their costumes and floats.



Parade results




Authentic Chuckwagon “driven” by Delbert Hawkins and built by Jim Pomajevich; pulled by Vintage John Deere tractor disguised as a horse and driven by Pomajevich; followed by a small herd of “cows” represented by the Proctor Exercise Group in cow costumes; herded by a wrangler on a stick-horse.




David Bosley of the Miracle of America Museum driving a 1916 Model T Touring loaded with a growing plant, milk can, and chicken in a basket. 




The Mergenthalers of Polson had a float representing the Idle Spur Saloon (where “Cowgirls Rule”). At one end of the float were kids on “horses,” and at the other end was a table of poker players and diners waiting for mouth-watering broasted chicken.




Nancy Riggio and Kelly Jensen were dressed as brightly costumed dance hall girls riding horseback. 




The local 4-H club had a float illustrating some of their activities, including dog-training, bow-hunting, sewing and crocheting. 




Another vintage wagon owned by Jim Pomajevich carried an old tin tub purportedly from a turn-of-the-century brothel in Butte. Inside the tub filled with “bubble bath” was Rachel Schreiner (blowing bubbles) and “Madam” Rhonda Walter who “drove” the wagon. 



Winner in Each Category - $25



Two Indians from the Massie Tribe – 

Slade and Ramzy Massie dressed as Indians wearing the painted symbols of their tribe along with feathered headdresses.



Mountain Man – 

Don Clouson dressed as a mountain man, riding his horse, Sally.



Dancehall Girl – Rachel Schreiner, in bathtub as “unSoiled Dove.”


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