A Drop of Ink

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by Reed Anfinson, Editor - Publisher

Several weeks ago we said that the community needs to revitalize Kid Day. We would like to make a suggestion that might help draw more involvement from kids and even has the possibility of making the community a destination for families throughout the region.
The most frequent comment we have heard about Kid Day is how dismaying it is to see the paltry number of doll buggies in the parade these days.
For decades, mothers and daughters (mostly mothers, aunts and older sisters) worked for weeks on putting together ornate decorations for doll buggies. Dresses were designed for the young girls that complemented their buggies. The dolls often had matching outfits as well.
But in recent years the number of children participating in the doll buggy group in the parade has steadily fallen. There were just a couple this year. Some of that decline definitely is due to a falling rural population. Swift County’s population is now smaller than it was in 1900. Other reasons for the dwindling numbers include the cost, the time and the lack of interest.
But we believe there is still an energy out there that could revitalize the doll buggy participation in the Kid Day parade. This past weekend we spent three days at the Swift County Fair. Among the events we watched was the “My Dolly and Me Contest.” Young girls involved in 4-H had designed and made outfits for themselves and their dolls. They were then interviewed by judges who presented awards based on the quality and originality of the outfits as well as on the answers given to questions in the interviews.
Participation in the event was strong, as evidenced by a long line of girls with their dolls that stretched across the stage in the Chuck Brown building.
The interest is there; now we need the incentive. Would a prize fund of $1,000 or $2,000 draw more participation? A first prize of $500 would motivate some to get involved with other prizes going down to a minimum of $50 ensuring a meaningful reward for winners. The more money we would raise, the more prizes we could offer, the greater the likely participation. The Monitor-News will contribute to that fund.
This may be a stretch, but perhaps we could even get the American Girl Corporation to consider donating.
Could we build upon an 83-year-old tradition to make Benson home to the largest doll buggy parade in the country? If we could, would draw hundreds, possible many more, to Kid Day? It would not only revitalize Kid Day, but it would be an economic development boost with local stores, restaurants and motels benefiting.
We don’t need to stop with promoting the doll buggies. If the funds could be raised, there could be meaningful prizes awarded for the best original float made by children. We remember the days of serpentine dragons, pirate ships, and space ships in the parade.
It is going to take motivated organizers to make such an event happen. It is going to have to be promoted widely. If it is going to happen by next Kid Day, work needs to start soon.

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