Irrigation Festival names grand pioneers

The Sequim Irrigation Festival has its grand pioneers, honorary grand pioneers and grand marshals for 2010. The Irrigation Festival is the longest continuous running festival in the state.

The pioneers attend the festival kick-off dinner, the Crazy Daze breakfast and royalty luncheon and ride in the grand parade.

The pioneers are chosen by the Sequim Pioneer Association.

Grand pioneers must have been born in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, attended Sequim schools and lived in the area continuously for the past 20 years.

Honorary pioneers must be community residents for at least 40 years and the grand marshal is a person who has greatly contributed to the community.

This year’s pioneers are:

Grand Pioneer Dick Shaw
Shaw’s family has been in the Sequim area since 1890. His father graduated from Sequim High School in 1923 and married Daisy Clawson in 1928. They had three sons, Bill, Glen and Dick, who all were born in Sequim.

Shaw remembers that hunting was a large part of their life, as deer meat was a significant part of their diet during the Depression. The Shaw boys all worked on other farms to make money as well as keeping up with their chores at home. Their mother had been a teacher, and the boys went to school full time and graduated from Sequim High School.

Shaw remembers one Irrigation Festival parade in which his brother Bill rode their Missouri jack donkey, which had a loud voice. The donkey brayed so loudly during the parade that windows shook and one horse threw his rider. Bill was asked to take the jack and go home.

Shaw says he really doesn’t want to be a grand pioneer and ride in an old car while people stare at him but he will do so to honor his grandparents and his father. He still lives on what is left of the family farm.

Grand Pioneer
Irene Zeman Danforth
The Zeman family also has been in the Sequim area since 1890. Her father, James, had a fishing boat and was fishing near Pysht when he met Amelia Fernandez while she was digging clams.

They were married in Victoria, British Columbia, in August 1900. James purchased a 40-acre ranch on Sequim Bay for their home. They had five daughters: Alpha, Gertrude, Helen Mercedes, Pearl and Irene. 

Irene married Daniel Danforth on Oct. 13, 1945. They had four children, Sandra, Lawrence, Vickie and Christine, who all grew up in Sequim. The family still owns the farm on Sequim Bay and parts of the original house still can be seen.

Honorary Grand Pioneer
Virginia Duncan
Brownfield Dickinson
Ginny Dickinson has fond memories of growing up in Sequim and playing in and around the irrigation ditches. She says once she and several friends wanted to swim so they dammed the ditch to make the water deeper near the present day library. The water rapidly spread out behind the dam and caused a flood and also cut off water from farmers downstream. They soon had several adults yelling at them. 

In the winter, the children would skate on the ditch, which was long but not very wide.
Part of the irrigation system was a flume raised high enough above the fields for cattle to walk under. In the winter, long icicles hung down, and children would break them off to suck on. One boy fell and cut himself and had to go to the doctor for a shot to ward off lockjaw. When the others heard this, they decided to ask him several times a day if his jaws were locked yet.

Dickinson’s family owned Duncan Resort in Dungeness while she was growing up. The Duncan family arrived in Sequim in 1909.

She and her first husband, Francis “Dizz” Brownfield, had seven children. The family had moved to Alaska, where Dizz died during a hunting trip in 1949. She and the children returned to Dungeness, where she later married Jack Dickinson and had three more children. The children all grew up near her parents’ home and went to Sequim schools.

Honorary Grand Pioneer Art Boyd
Art Boyd was born in Port Angeles in 1914. During the Depression, he and a friend hopped a freight train to Montana to look for work.

In 1941, he married his employer’s daughter Eileen Boardman. In 1946, they and their children Sandra and Thomas moved to Sequim, where Boyd worked in his father’s sawmill. The Boyds had two more children in Sequim, Janice and Carl.

Boyd has many memories of living in Sequim. When he moved to Sequim the only traffic signal was a blinking caution light at Washington Street and First Avenue (now Sequim Avenue). He was in charge of building the Sequim Irrigation Festival float for many years.

He remembers one year when former Gov.Dixie Lee Ray was in town for the festival. He gave her a ride on the float all around town after the parade. Boyd was on the Sequim City Council for 16 years, eight years on the Transportation Board, belonged to the Sequim Grange for 25 years and the Sequim-Dungeness Kiwanis Club for 25 years

Grand Marshals Elaine and Bob Caldwell 

The Caldwells moved to Sequim 15 years ago and, after building their home, became involved in community activities.
They were Citizens of the Year in 2006. Last year they made a $100,000 interest-free loan to Olympic Theatre Arts to complete its building project. They later forgave the loan when the amount was matched through donations. Elaine is OTA’s board chairwoman and is involved in the Sequim Community Foundation, First Choice Professionals and Aglow.

Bob is a founding member of Friends of the Fields and he helped start the Community Organic Gardens of Sequim. He is a retired federal agricultural economist who worked at finding the best uses for land and resources for farmers and government entities. He says that it costs more for a city to support residential development than farmland.

He says the objective of Friends of the Fields is to ensure the quality of life in this area by protecting sustainable farms and farming.

Reach Dana Casey at

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