Every five years a town celebration with an all-school reunion draws up to 10 times the population of the small North Dakota town of Sykeston.
The high school closed nearly 15 years ago, and reunions have brought up to 2,000 former residents and visitors to the town of around 120 people, said Jon Polries, president of the Sykeston Community Club. The numbers have dipped over the years, but more than 500 people are expected for this 135th anniversary from June 29-July 1, he said.
“Everybody is welcome to come,” Polries said. “There is plenty of food and no charge for the band.”
The events start Friday with a 5 p.m. Fire Hall social, $15 barbecue rib meal and a meet and greet on Main Street. Saturday events include a 5K run or 2K walk, a pancake and sausage breakfast, inflatables for the kids, self-guided tours of the former Sykeston school, a closest to the pin golf event, bingo and a 9 p.m. street dance with the Downtown Sound band.
For the first time around 35 people will have an opportunity to learn to create a sunset painting with the town of Sykeston as the subject. The 10 a.m. Saturday workshop will use a photo showing downtown Sykeston and its historical bridge across Lake Hiawatha.
Linda Donlin, Bismarck, said older downtown buildings were torn down in Sykeston within the past year. Returning former residents will notice the difference and that spark of nostalgia might inspire their painting, she said.
“That’s why the painting of the old downtown is so special,” Donlin said.
Donlin completed a series of Sykeston paintings to display this weekend. The paintings are set in Donlin’s youth and depict the Sykeston High School, Lake Hiawatha, downtown and St. Elizabeth’s Catholic School with detail that someone who grew up there would notice, she said.
The two-hour class will focus on the gloved finger technique, she said. It allows the artist to mix colors on the canvas and uses striping for the impressionistic effect.
After teaching elementary school art in Fessenden and the working in communications, Donlin said she now has more time for her art. Small postcard-sized prints of her Sykeston paintings were sent out with all the registration packets, she said.
“I thought this would be a fun thing to do for the reunion,” she said.
For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.sykestonnd.com.