Miners Jubilee: a blast with a past

July 22, 2001 11:00 pm
Bullfighters face danger as well as bull riders as Tim Vredenburg narrowly escaped injury during a skirmish Saturday at the Baker Elks Blowout Bull Riding. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Bullfighters face danger as well as bull riders as Tim Vredenburg narrowly escaped injury during a skirmish Saturday at the Baker Elks Blowout Bull Riding. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

The real beauty of Miners Jubilee may be that people of all ages and with varied interests can all find something to plug into.

Over the course of just one day Saturday one could take in what might be the most dangerous and exciting eight seconds in sports, bull riding.

Or climb to the top of an inflated rock crag.

City kids even got a taste of life on the farm at a 4-H sponsored petting zoo.

And, of course, lots of people paraded down Main Street. In fact, the most venturesome paraded later that afternoon aboard a pair of mobile beds, part of the annual boudoir races.

The simple act of listening while a record gathering of area residents and visitors enjoyed this 20th Miners Jubilee edition yielded these vignettes.

Between a rock and a soft place

Volunteers from the National Guards Detachment 1, Company A, based in Baker City, said their aim was to help children feel good about themselves as they helped hoist kids to the top of a giant inflated rock pyramid. Youth were invited to be strapped into a harness, then climb as best they could up the face of the rubber wall.

When they needed a boost up, it was up to Specialist Henry Koos of Baker City and others to tug on a rope that helped climbers to the top.

The art of this is to help those up who need help without giving them a wedgie, he said with a smile. Koos was particularly patient with younger children, including Tanner Mendenhall, 6, of Baker City, who conquered the summit after plenty of effort.

Im happy I could get to the top, he said after his adventure. I thought I wasnt going to make it, but I kept going.

His mother, Julia, said she thought the wall afforded Tanner a good challenge.

I think this kind of activity is good for overcoming all kinds of fears heights, being scared of the dark, she said. Its good to have success after going through a challenge.

Look whos at the petting zoo

Down a bit on Main Street, the WIld Woolies 4-H Club sold 25-cent paper cups full of hay pellets to children and not a few grown-ups to enhance their visit to the petting zoo.

Club advisor Joyce Aldrich, who brought along her fainting goat, Maddie, which she kept on a leash, said she was surprised by the number of adults who enjoyed feeding the sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens.

One woman came back twice and spent a long time feeding the animals, Aldrich said. She kept telling us how nice it was that people could enjoy the animals. The kids have had a fantastic time, but a surprising number of adults have come through, too.

The Wild Woolies sold more than 150 cups of hay pellets Friday and planned to at least double that mark on Saturday, Aldrich said.

Sport sanding

Las Vegas oddsmakers will tell you that people will bet on anything. At Saturdays belt sander races, no money was seen changing hands. But that didnt diminish the enthusiasm that a small number of racers feel for their sport especially after being forced to sit out last years competition, which was cancelled when too few people entered their prized machines.

I didnt really have time to drum up a lot of interest last year, said Nathan Kerns of Haines, who built the 30-foot, twin-lane track that the belt sanders chug down. This year, we decided we needed to reach out to the community.

Belt sanders of all designs Kerns, for example, was remodeled to resemble a locomotive were on display at a table near the starting line. When organizer Rocky Brown turned on the starters lights, contestants had to flip a switch to start their sander then root like crazy as their entries noisily made a beeline to the finish.

Willard Hulick of Baker City eliminated all challengers, winning the competition for the second time in its four year history. His one-horsepower Craftsman entry achieved speeds up to 1,500 feet per minute.

Eventually Ill get beat, he said after the race, hoisting his trophy. This cant go on forever.

Hulick speculated that the race draws so much interest because it allows grown people to do something that our high school shop teacher told us never to do plug in our belt sander with the trigger turned on.

A gracious winner, Hulick allowed Kerns a grudge match challenge after the championship, a race in which Hulick again defeated Kerns in come-from-behind fashion.

It just confirmed my victory, a satisfied Hulick said after again besting Kerns, who asserted he was beaten only because he failed to adjust the belt on his locomotive sander after the championship race.

Said Hulick: As long as Im still getting those excuses next year, itll be all right.