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Philip celebrates 100 years of success

Muzzleloaders and tomahawks ... These mountain men reenactment enthusiasts entertained Bad River Park visitors during the Philip centennial. Their official club title is the Muzzleloaders of the Black Hills.

The all-school reunion registration started at noon on Thursday. The many, many (and still many more) activities started out easy with an old-timers' baseball game. Then, the tempo jumped and leaped forward and locked onto maximum with a Matched Bronc Ride whose quality, some said, could rival that of the National Finals Rodeo.

Over 1,200 people witnessed the pony express delivery of Governor Rounds' official proclamation of Philip's Centennial. Then, midst a buffalo-meat supper and gabbing with old friends, the audience saw 25 cowboys eliminated down to six. Those six all finished the third and final round with scores of over 80 from on top of National Finals Rodeo horses.

The next morning, the tent set up downtown proved that it was huge and could hold hundreds of people. Still, this was nowhere near the numbers who were spending the Centennial Celebration weekend in Philip. The tent was not the only place to be; other activities drew people in different direction most of the time.

There were tours of the fairly new hospital in Philip and of the Minuteman Missile site south of town. There were art, quilt and car shows, a mountain man encampment and even a cowboyography camp.

Food was plentiful - from potluck to pit-barbecued beef, from buffalo to an elaborate tour of tables. No one had to go hungry nor thirsty.

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. But, that was part of the fun. Every time something went long, that meant that it went well. The next activity might have had to start later, but that gave old friends a chance to visit more. Surprisingly, the reunion name tags dangling from people's necks weren't needed as often as an outsider might think. In a town of less than a 1,000 such as Philip, people stay friends - even if it has been a few decades since they last shared food and a drink together.

The day crescendoed through performers such as the Haakon County Crooners, a Scotty Philip impersonator, cowboy poetry, an inflatable carnival for the kids, to climax with a street band that kept the tent and most of downtown dancing into the wee hours.

The night may have been late, but the morning still came early. A 5K and 10K walk and run began at 6:30 a.m. Breakfasts were available throughout town. A time capsule was exhumed, its contents disseminated to the descendants of many families, and it was refilled to wait for another 25 years. All this while, the parade line-up was underway.

Almost 200 entries walked, peddled, or rode horses or vehicles down the length of the town. Any other occasion for such a huge parade would have required the entire population, thus there would have been no spectators. This weekend, though, the crowd was tight with old friends. Descendants of the namesake Scotty Philip were an honored part of the parade, as were descendants of Dan Powell, who gave the name of Philip to the post office. Not even an otherwise welcome rain could dampen the spirit of the celebration.

Friends, food, drink and all the activities kept people busy for another day. The tent was again the main point of activity. An historical, funny and music-based trial summarized the history of the town of Philip. Norwegian dancers and most of the previously mentioned activities couldn't keep a vast majority of the crowd from attending the all-school reunion banquet. The evening ended with the kids carnival and a fresh band to keep the dancers going.

Sunday was not a slow-down. Breakfasts, two tent church services, book-signing authors, a golf tournament, and a croquet tournament all led up to the demolition derby.

The weekend did have some quiet moments. A memorial was dedicated to those area individuals lost during military service. Traffic stopped for pedestrians. The police were attentive, but were thankful that they were not necessarily busy. The future quietest moments will be the smiling times when celebration attendees look back through their photo albums and dwell on the good times had at Philip's Centennial.

Look for related stories and photos in this and future issues.