Tuesday, September 28, 2004

It has been more than a month since the annual Lamar Free Fair, but Fair-related information was featured in The Lamar Democrat last week...and it was great news.
Those who attended this year's fair missed an old staple, the display of past fair queens in the windows at Walters Studio. Allen Walters recently retired so no one was there to allow fairgoers to look at the four decades of beauty which were traditionally featured in the window, which had portraits of every queen since the first one was crowned in 1958.
Cait Purinton interviewed Allen and Edith Walters about that tradition in the first issue of the late, lamented Lamar Press on Aug. 15, 1996.
The tradition had started 30 years earlier when their daughter, Susan, was crowned queen. "We were so proud for her to be a queen," Edith told Cait, "so we went back and got senior pictures o all the past queens and started the display."
The first six pictures were handpainted by Allen's sister, Gene Youngs, according to that article. The rest of the pictures are in color.
The biggest challenge in setting up the display, Allen told Cait, was "finding room for another one every year."
The portraits will be on display from now on at the Thiebaud Auditorium, according to the Democrat article. Congratulations to everyone who played a part in the restoration of that tradition.
Also, thanks should be given to the Democrat for remembering that names do sell papers. The newspaper ran a complete list of Lamar Fair queens, something which had not been done since I did it in The Carthage Press in 1998. That was something that I used to do each year in the week preceding the contest. I was able to get hold of a list of past queens while I was working at The Democrat, ran it then and kept on doing it. It gave people an opportunity relive some pleasant memories.
Today's Joplin Globe features an article indicating that Southwest City's police chief has filed a lawsuit against the city. Seems like I read that somewhere else a few days ago.
The first presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday night. Hopefully, we can bury the swift boat issue and President Bush's days in the National Guard and actually get down to discussing issues.
Reviews are mixed on the new Spring River Valley Conference. Football coaches and football-loving administrators are enamoured with it, while those who emphasize academics believe it is a step down.
Teachers from old Midwest Conference schools Jasper and Lockwood, have indicated to me that the new conference has so far given short shrift to academics, something which was always emphasized in the Midwest Conference, which had strong programs in academic competitions, art, industrial arts, science, math, and music, among other things.
Teachers who attended the recent conference meeting at Diamond came away unimpressed, in fact dismayed, by the apparent lack of attention conference administrators have paid to the academic side of the equation.
The former Midwest Conference instructors also indicated their feelings were shared by teachers from the former Mid-Lakes Conference schools in the Spring River Valley Conference, and by teachers from Diamond, which had been in the Ozark Eight Conference.
It is no secret, that despite what administrators from the schools have said, the driving force behind the new conference is football. It was the only area in which these schools have had any particular difficulties. Diamond had no conference affiliation in football since none of the other Ozark 8 schools, except McAuley, field a team. Jasper, Lockwood, and Liberal, had to travel all over the state to play teams in the Western Missouri (WEMO) Conference.
Hopefully, the administrators will put some extra effort into establishing academics as a driving force in the new conference, but I'll have to see it to believe it.

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