During our lives we experience certain things that seem to brand themselves into our psyche.  These special events appear to have happened just yesterday as time seems to stand still.  Then one day the event is put into perspective and we say to ourselves that we can’t believe it has been that long since the incident took place.  It may have been something as tragic as the assassination of a president or the death of an iconic rock and roll king or perhaps something more local.  For me the recent epiphany was the 125th Anniversary of the birth of Farmerville.  I came across the souvenir program for the ceremonies and said to myself that it is hard to believe this took place fifty years ago, and it seems just like yesterday.

On March 15, 1976 the town of Farmerville began a four day birthday celebration.  This celebration exemplifies what a small community can do when it pulls together, what teamwork can accomplish when focused on a common result and what a fun environment rural America can be.

Festivities began the evening of March 15th when the Centenary Band performed in the Farmerville gym.  In 1976 a live performance was a big event for a community and for small Farmerville to have the Centenary College Choir travel from Shreveport to Farmerville to perform was no small event.  Admission was charged and students had to pay $.50 and adults were charged $1.00.  Committee Chairman for the Choir was Mrs. Cecil Read, math and physics teach at Farmerville high School.

The celebration moved into high gear on March 16th.  Farmerville was undergoing an economic growth spurt due to several individual and state investments in the area.  Farmerville’s celebration allowed an opportunity to showcase these successes.  International Paper held an exhibit in honor of one of its’ most prolific timber suppliers for its’ Bastrop Paper Mill.  Mr. Max Gilmore hosted this event.  A flower show opened to showcase beautiful flower arrangements prepared by the Farmerville Garden Club.  This club was formed by Mrs Ralph Harper in 1948, a teacher at Farmerville and the show was organized by Mrs. N.B. James.  A small museum was established in the lobby of the new First Federal Savings and Loan on Main Street with Mrs. Frank Yelton chairing this exhibit.  Also opening for the celebration was the art show that showcased the talent of Mr. Larce Holder’s art classes.  Mrs. James Fenton organized the art show.  Two locations were set aside for art from both adolescent and adult classes. On the afternoon of the 16th a large parade was held.  Marching bands, majorettes and floats that celebrated the birth of our town were all there.   Mr.  Richard Neely organized the parade.  Following the parade the Preaus-Auger Chip Mill was formally dedicated.  This was a major economic boom for the area and was hosted by Mr. Fred Preaus.  That night a banquet was held at the Farmerville Cafeteria and was chaired by Mrs. C.  R. Rainwater.  This was followed by a Convocation in the Farmerville gym that was accommodated by Mr. W.C. McMurrian.   Many may ask what a convocation is.  It is a gathering of people and in the deep south it use to have a religious theme.  Unfortunately the details of the convocation for the Farmerville ceremony appears to have been lost over time.   What a long but fun day March 16th was.

On Friday March 17th the Art Show, Flower Show, and Museum continued.  That evening the Farmerville Gym was once again the venue for the birthday when it hosted a variety show plus the Miss Farmerville contest.  Mr. Roy Forrester chaired the variety show while Mr. Jack Hill headed the Pageant committee.  Admission to the event was $.75 for students and $1.00 for adults.  This pageant morphed into the Watermelon Pageant and has produced Miss Louisiana’s and Miss America Contestants.

In the morning of March 18th  Gerald Farrah coordinated an air show that showcased precision parachute jump teams..  Then the culmination of the celebration took place in the gym.  The Ole South Ball took place with awards going to the lady with the most authentic gown.  This was not the biggest part of the evening.  Phares Corder and his orchestra played till mid-night and the gym rocked with old and young dancing through the evening.  I have to admit that I took full advantage of the event.  This was sponsored by the Farmerville Jaycees and admission was $2.50.

Hillary Clinton wrote a book, “It takes a Village”.  The 125th anniversary of the founding of Farmerville exemplifies that term.  It took a unified effort with a lot of leadership and a lot of pride to produce the ceremony and it was a grand event.

Happy birthday Farmerville.  For one hundred and seventy-five years old you are still quit a beautiful lady.

One note, I used the names of the chairs for the various committees as they were presented in the official souvenir program.  The women were identified as the wife of her husband and the ladies names were not used.  That was the way it was in 1967.  A lot has happened in 50 years.


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