The annual Heritage Days taco supper and pie auction fundraiser has evolved over the years and now includes presentation of the Citizen of the Year award and the Miss and Little Miss Rock Rapids queen contest. During this year’s event Thursday, April 6, flyers on the tables announced a special Heritage Days guest. Jerry Mathers, perhaps best known as “The Beaver” in the 1950s television series “Leave it to Beaver,” will attend the 2017 Rock Rapids Heritage Days Celebration June 16-18. Mathers and his family lived in Rock Rapids for a few years after he was born in 1948.
Mathers and his wife, Teresa, will be the grand marshals for the Heritage Days parade, along with the recently-named Citizen of the Year. This year’s recipient was not just one citizen but 16! Recently retired Lyon County EMTs and retired Rock Rapids volunteer firefighters were collectively named Citizens of the Year. Retired EMTs Dick Heidloff, Dale Slack and Marlene Bowers had a combined 94 years of service to the ambulance squad when they retired. “Countless hours, countless ‘thank yous’ and countless families touched. We can never say ‘thank you’ enough for what these people have done for our communities,” said Chamber director Angie Jager, reading from the award nomination. “They have held many hands and saved many lives.” The nomination went on to name the three retirees professional, mentors and friends. “So many peoples’ lives changed forever,” said Jager of the trio’s contributions. “Join me in saying ‘thank you’ for all they have done.”
The Rock Rapids Fire Department has had 13 volunteer firefighters retire in justover the past 10 years. “These guys who have retired make up 328 years of service. The guys who retired in the past year make up 195 years alone,” said Jager, reading from the award nomination. According to the nomination, several of the men served as officers during their time on the department. Elmer Aeilts and LeRoy Griesse served as fire chief and Gary “Spark” Vogel served 18 years as secretary/treasurer. Many of the men held office as assistant and second assistant chief. The retired firemen and their years of service include: Craig Roths, five years; Elmer Aeilts, 38 years; LeRoy Griesse, 26 years; Butch Kruse, 26 years; Trent Bruce, six years; Greg Vanden Huevel, 32 years; Randy Koll, 38 years; Gary “Spark” Vogel, 36 years; Leonard “Butch” Hasselmann, 35 years; Mike Vogt, 28 years; Todd Huisman, 21 years; Scott Hunt, 20 years; Steve Herman, 17 years.
Following the Citizen of the Year presentation, local auctioneer Clark Ahders went to work auctioning 25 homemade donated pies, including a first-ever chicken pot pie. The auction netted more than $4,800 for Heritage Days activities.
Nine young ladies and four young women took a spot on the stage for the Little Miss Rock Rapids and Miss Rock Rapids contest. Little Miss contestants included Kyla Davis, daughter of Paul and Keri Davis; Khoryn Funk, daughter of Ryan and Kristi Funk; Jordyn Horstman, daughter of Dustin and Robyn Horstman; Piper Kruse, daughter of Geoff and Jessica Kruse; Mary Oedekoven, daughter of Matt and Molly Oedekoven; Ella Sprock, daughter of Eric and Amy Sprock; Brooklyn Timmerman, daughter of Dustin and Julie Timmerman; and Paisley Vogel, daughter of Brad and Tasha Vogel. Vying for the title of Miss Rock Rapids were Bergin DeBruin, Abigail Gukeisen, Andrea Korthals and Emily Popkes. Each of the Miss Rock Rapids contestants was asked a question to answer for a panel of three judges. While the judges deliberated on their selection, the Little Miss contestants also answered a question before one name was randomly drawn. Kyla Davis was the contestant name drawn for Little Miss. The judges selected Emily Popkes as Miss Rock Rapids. Bergin DeBruin was selected as runner-up and will step in to represent Rock Rapids should Popkes be unable to fulfill the role. Miss and Little Miss Rock Rapids will represent Rock Rapids during Heritage Days activities and in area parades throughout the summer. Popkes will also represent Rock Rapids in the Lyon County queen contest during the Lyon County Fair in July.