'I remember Hay Days!' | June 27, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

- June 27, 2008

'I remember Hay Days!'

Historian recalls enthusiasm of Centennial celebration

by Virgie V. Jones

When I was asked for my remembrance of the Danville's Centennial Hay Days, it all came back like it was yesterday (though 50 years had passed).

The Hay Days started Sept. 4, 1958; it was in celebration of Danville's centennial year, and continued for four days (four years as well). And, it seemed everyone was enthusiastic and participated.

With the help of the four-page program, first day events were an Aquacade and a fashion show of Old Timers bathing suits at the San Ramon Valley High School. Second Day, Sept. 5, Kid's Day with a pet parade at Charlotte Middle School. Next day (third) was the Junior Horseman's Show at the Humphrey Ranch on Stone Valley Road. The Coronation of the Pioneer Belle - followed by a dance. The fourth and last of the Hay Days Celebration was the Centennial Parade on Hartz Avenue, the Old Timers Flag Raising Ceremony and end of the parade and a barbequed steak dinner. There was a carnival with rides set up all four days.

Fred Wilkens was general chairman and other chairmen were: Ray McCoy, parade; Vance Perry, carnival; Jack Weightman, queen contest; Don McNeilly, decorations and pet parade; Gen Bayley, publicity; Walter Xavier, grounds; Tom Ohlson, police; Tom Clarke, whiskerino; Carl Fiedler, barbecue; Ward Shannon, street dance and public address system; Mel Whalin and Dick Calhoun, finance; Jane Manske, Aquacade; Ed Azarian, local concessions; Mary Huenink, junior horsemen; and Bill Hockins, program.

We Joneses participated in all of it. We wore costumes for the entire four days. My husband, Al Jones, wore a cowboy outfit resembling "Cowboy Wild Bill Cody" or a "Southern Colonel." By day, I wore a pioneer dress and bonnet and at night I wore a black slinky, side-slitted, form fitting beaded gown complete with feather boa and fan and became a dance hall "cutie"!

Russel Glen of Danville Hotel fame started the whiskerino contest. My husband participated, for the event, but Russ never shaved his beard off.

Danville Hay Days continued for four years, but not to the extent of its first year in 1958.

In 1962, it was decided to do the San Ramon Valley Old-Fashioned Fourth of July ceremonies. Pat O'Nion of Alamo was general chairman for the first year (1962). Gen. William F. Dean of Berkeley was the guest speaker. For about 10 years thereafter, Virginia (Mrs. William) Deaton of Montair served as this function's capable chairman.

What fun it all was, and a family event.

Most of this information was taken from my book, "Remembering Alamo... and Other Things Along the Way," 1975 and 2001.

By day, I wore a pioneer dress and bonnet and at night I became a dance hall "cutie"!

-Virgie V. Jones