Wonder what they would have put in there?
It was the summer of1965. Kids were playing with hula-hoops and new-fangled “Super Balls.” Teen-agers were listening to the Beatles on vinyl. Less than two years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation was still mourning a president taken too soon. We were a nation looking to the heavens, but we hadn’t yet stepped on the moon.
Downtown Boone was hopping with stores, but no one shopped on Sundays. Most places were closed as part of the blue laws still common in many states.
It was a more simple time. Still, change was in the offing. More young men were headed to a place called South Vietnam. In 1965, even cigarette packs carried a brand new warning that they may not be good for a person’s health.
Boone’s own Mamie Eisenhower was still alive; might she have sent a gift to stow away for the future?
In the midst of what is often considered the nation’s most tumultuous decade, the people of Boone were taking a nostalgic look back as they celebrated the community’s centennial.
“They literally spent years planning the centennial celebration,” says Pam Schwartz, executive director of the Boone County Historical Society.
As part of that celebration, they packed away a time capsule for the future in a year beyond their own millennium. The instructions were to open the capsule in 2015 as the community celebrated its sesquicentennial.
“We don’t know what’s in there,” says Schwartz. “It’s a surprise. It’s kind of like a big birthday present for Boone.”
To put it in perspective, the students who were attending Boone High when the capsule was buried nearby are now pretty much old enough for Social Security. Hopefully, some of them will be on hand when the time capsule is opened during the joint 150th celebration and Pufferbilly Days this September.
Putting the two festivities together seemed a natural, according to Emily McColloch, events coordinator for the Boone Chamber of Commerce.
“With the crowds coming through for the Super Nationals and Pufferbilly Days, it was kind of like we might as well go big,” says McColloch.
Going big is what it’s all about as a lot of folks come home to Boone for the festival that this year is known as Pufferbilly Days Celebrates Boone’s 150th, slated for Thursday, Sept. 10, through Sunday, Sept. 13.
The traditional Pufferbilly Days opening ceremony by the Boone Veterans Council will kick off at 6 p.m., with the time capsule to be cracked open for all to see at 6:15 p.m. downtown.
After the opening of the time capsule, all are invited to stick around downtown for the Midwest Rock and Soul Revue appearing at 7 p.m. in the Entertainment Center.
Opening day will cap off with fireworks at 9 p.m., set off behind the downtown Entertainment Center.
“We’re doing fireworks for the first time, and it’s kind our way of saying happy birthday to the community,” McColloch says.
Additional activities on Thursday include the Little Miss and Mr. Pufferbilly Days pageant at 5 p.m. in the Ryan Gym at Sacred Heart School.
The antique auto show will be downtown beginning at 5 p.m. The carnival, brat tent, food court and beer tent are also all set to open at 5 p.m. and continue through 10 p.m.
A walk through history
For those who look at the names on buildings and wonder how they were chosen, or those who try to recall all the stores that populated the downtown when they were kids, the Historic Walking Tours are a must-do for this year’s celebration, according to Schwartz.
Schwartz and local history buff Ed Mondt have teamed up in preparing the research for the walking tours.
“Ed has a lot of the newer knowledge, and what’s really going to be nostalgic for people as to what was here when they grew up,” Schwartz says. “I have a lot more of the knowledge as to what was here in the 1880s and throughout time.”
They’ll talk about businesses, fires and see who can recall a place called “Hobo Alley” downtown.
The walking tours will all begin at the Historical Center and proceed up Story Street, but will not cross the railroad. There is no cost, and people are encouraged to put on their walking shoes for this easy hike through history.
Tour times are set for 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Civil War comes to Boone
Some 517 men from Boone County marched off to help save the Union during the Civil War. They fought under the Stars and Stripes to preserve the Union that was their flag. As part of the sesquicentennial celebration, a Civil War reenactment will be brought to McHose Park on Saturday and Sunday.
“That is going to be a very special part of our 150th celebration,” Schwartz says.” It’s not a typical reenactment. There will be a fashion show, different demonstrations and even a nighttime battle.”
The encampment will be set up at McHose Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Afternoon battles are set for 1 p.m. each day. The nighttime battle will get underway at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Additional activities include a Civil War dance demonstration at 3:30 p.m. and a ladies fashion show at 4:30 p.m.
All the activities will be free to the public, and Schwartz encourages families to come out and experience history for themselves.
“We’re really trying to keep it all free,” she says. “We just want people to enjoy it and take away something about history.”
Brush up on Boone history
Back downtown at the Entertainment Center, several other events are set for Saturday as part of the 150th celebration. There will be ballroom dancing demonstrations and kids games at 2 p.m. Saturday. The afternoon will feature a hat decorating contest at 3:30 p.m., a beard contest at 4 p.m. and a pie-eating contest at 5 p.m.
It’s also the time to brush up on Boone history — think Kate Shelley, Ike and Mamie, Bonnesboro and Montana, and maybe even a really ugly character named Inkpaduta. The Boone trivia game will be played beginning at 4:30 p.m. downtown.
All the regular Pufferbilly Days Fun
While the sesquicentennial serves as a great theme for Pufferbilly Days and blends in a special excitement, the weekend will continue to feature all the fun and events Boone area residents have come to love about the celebration.
With more than 120 entries last year, organizers are expecting another great parade through downtown Boone, stepping off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Evening entertainment will feature the Final Mix Show Band Concert performing at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Entertainment Center. Saturday will see a return of Toaster, also at 7:30 p.m., same location.
For a new taste this year, there will be a craft beer tent on Friday, featuring Boone’s own local brewery, as well as a few guest brews from the area.
Family Fun Day, a crowd favorite when it debuted last year, will be back again beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. There will be three inflatables downtown for kids and all the other fun and fixings of Pufferbilly Days.
“Family Fun Day was a huge hit last year,” McColloch says. “We had a lot of people tell us to bring it back again.”
Also on Sunday will be the barbecue cook-off at 1:30 p.m., along with the spelling bee and quilt show.
The craft fair is back again, opening at 9 a.m. downtown on both Saturday and Sunday,
Saturday will also include a motorcycle show at 1 p.m., the kids’ choo-choo fun run at 1:30 p.m., and, not to be missed, the Iowa/Iowa State tailgate party at 2 p.m.
A full listing of events — everything from bingo to mud volleyball, horseshoes and more — as well as applications to enter the various races and contests, can be found on the Boone Chamber website, www.booneiowa.us.
Throughout it all, don’t forget to check the schedule and take a ride on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. After all, the city’s railroad heritage is the reason for this unique Iowa festival.
Oh, and by the way, back in 1965 no one in Boone had ever heard of a “Pufferbilly Days celebration.” Now a mainstay for late summer in Boone, Pufferbilly Days didn’t start until well in to the 1970s. But Pufferbilly Days will celebrate a birthday next year with the 40th annual celebration — sounds like a good excuse for a party.
Wonder what they did in Boone in September before Pufferbilly Days?