Enthusiastic townspeople, including the Pine/Strawberry Historical Society, Pine Library, LDS church and a bevy of pioneers, on July 9 hosted a hometown centennial celebration in honor of Arizona’s 100th birthday that turned into the highlight of the year in the two tiny mountain hamlets.
The day began with a parade on Randall Drive that many called the finest in history.
Pine Boy Scout Troop 562 proudly led the parade carrying Arizona, United States, Boy Scout and Cub Scout flags.
What followed was a feast for parade-lovers’ eyes, including a Pine Library float, Pine-Strawberry Fire Department trucks, a myriad of ATVs, quads and side-by-sides piloted by members of the Rim Country Trails Association, historic farm tractors, a handful of horseback riders, business floats, antique cars driven by town pioneers and a group of about 60 clowns whose antics left a gaggle of onlookers giggling.
Parade official Junetta Clifford said the clowns were a last-minute entry.
Following the parade, the crowd roamed around town readying themselves for an afternoon deep-pit barbecue cooked by Albert Hunt, the town’s renowned cowboy cook.
During the afternoon under the town ramada, the historical society hosted a variety of games that drew children of all ages. Meanwhile in the Cultural Hall, programs on the history of the two towns and state drew crowds. The day of celebration and joy wrapped up with a western-themed dance.
The local band Junction 87 provided lively toe-tapping, country-style music that drew young and old to the dance floor to enjoy barn dances, two-stepping, line dances and West Coast swings.
At the end of the day, volunteers from around the two communities gathered to clean up and rehash the day’s events.
Most agreed, the celebration was an overwhelming success.
McNeeley poker run on Sept 28
A record 160 quads of all brands, makes, sizes and configurations turned out for one of Pine and Strawberry’s most popular charity events of the year — the Justice McNeeley Foundation Poker Run.
Contested on old logging trails and paths around Pine, the event drew many first-timers.
“We had a lot of new faces, which was awesome,” said Justice McNeeley Foundation spokesperson Katie Parks. “We had a wonderful turnout.”
Most importantly, the ride raised over $11,000, which will be used to help pay medical expenses of needy children.
At the conclusion of the run, in which riders were dealt playing cards at five different stops, Eli McDade took honors for having the best hand and Craig Ramsey was left holding the worst hand.
Jim Jones and Forrest Miller won the horseshoe tournament that drew a field of six teams.
In the Texas Hold ’Em tournament, Ronnie Villa was first and Donna Merkley second.
Dan Kohl won a fishing boat in the raffle.
The Second Annual Fire on the Rim, began Sept. 14 and continued for the next two days, attracted throngs of cyclists and their families to Pine and Strawberry.
The event included vendors, races, music, a spaghetti dinner and a beer garden sponsored by New Belgium Brewing.
All proceeds from the race benefited the Pine-Strawberry Fuels Reduction committee, which work to clear and maintain firebreak lines around the community.
Last year, the event attracted 88 riders This year, at least 120 riders entered
Entrants could choose from three race lengths — 15, 30 and 45 miles.
In June, the tiny town of Strawberry celebrated its namesake festival by putting out the red carpet to welcome visitors from around the state
Sponsored by the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, vendors, restaurants and residents hosted a myriad of booths and displays that touted the benefits and tastiness of the fruit.
Visitors could sip a Strawberry sparkle, fest on strawberry pie or down chocolate dipped strawberries.
New to the traditional festival was the Fossil Creek Llamas and Strawberry Yama Llama 4-H Club sponsored a Llama fun run. Guests were invited to partner up with a llama and try to beat the clock.
The same day in Pine, the Historical Society and the Strawberry Patchers held their Annual Quilt Show. In it, the Patchers showed off old and new quilts sewn by hand with delicate precision. Also, the “Lacey Ladies” a group of women dedicated to keeping the art of hand lace making alive and well, made a guest appearance.