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Perfect for a Picnic


Some days are perfect for picnics. A warm day—not too hot; not too many bugs; a rolling river with safe shallows for wading; a tree for climbing; a wicker basket full of fried chicken, hot dogs, potato salad and cole slaw and mixed fruit. And what, you may ask, is there to drink in such a perfect picnic atmosphere?

Perhaps lemonade would be the perfect topper.

That's probably the thought that crossed the minds of George Craven and Kenneth Coghlan, the two co-chairmen of the committee in charge of the lemonade stand at Valley City's Town and Country picnic in Chautauqua Park in 1951.

Fifteen other men were to assist in running the lemonade stand and other connected stands, which would be supplied with more than lemonade. Coffee and ice cream were also available, and, better yet, all of the treats were provided for free--which made many empty-pocketed youngsters very happy, indeed.

The stand opened at the picnic, held on this day, at 11:00 am, and they did very well. Estimates, based on a count of tickets issued at the entrance of the park, were that 9,000 people were at the annual picnic—that number equated to approximately half the population of Barnes County. And although some people received more than one ticket, not many did, and that fact was factored in to the estimate.

There were indeed ideal conditions for a picnic that day. Picnickers started to arrive around 10:00 that morning, and there was a steady flow in until about 4:00 in the afternoon. A concert was conducted by the city band around 1, and an emcee, Russ Kaber, KOVC announcer, also led several audience-participation events that those who were present were able to enjoy. A nearby swimming hole was patrolled by a group of life savers.

And as for the stands, by the end of the day, 10,000 ice cream cones, 320 gallons of coffee and 1,400 gallons of lemonade had been given out to the hungry and thirsty thousands.

Everything went off smoothly, with only four people reporting minor injuries and three missing kids quickly located before the end of the day. And if they had a stomachache from those extra sweets and treats, they were likely still satisfied with their day.

It had been, after all, perfect as a picnic.

By Sarah Walker


Valley City Times-Record and the Barnes County News, July 20, 1951

Valley City Times-Record and the Barnes County News, July 23, 1951