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Hailey Grange Celebrates Centennial with Parade Honor and Pancake Breakfast
The Hailey Grange will be honored in Hailey’s Fourth of July Parade.
Monday, July 1, 2024


MaryAnn Knight remembers playing with other children at the Hailey Grange after her family bought a 316-acre farm in the Wood River Valley in 1943. Then, she said, it was a place for farmers and their families, who worked long hours by themselves, to meet friends.

There were always skits, singing, games, musical presentations, lectures and a chance to catch up on the news.

“And we always marched with music in and out for the presentation of the flag at the opening and closing of the meetings, after which there were almost always wonderful homemade treats at a sit-down table and conversation not generally regarding farming but rather sharing life’s current joys and tribulations and how to fix anything!” she recounted.

Grace Eakin, who turns 90 this summer, is among those who will represent the Hailey Grange as it is honored as Grand Marshall in Hailey’s Fourth of July parade.

Knight has continued to maintain her ties to the Grange into adulthood. And on July Fourth she will join five other women in representing the Grange, which is celebrating its centennial, on a float in Hailey’s Days of the Old West Parade. Joan Davies, Julie Fox, Manon Gaudreau, Grace Eakin and Hilarie Neely will also ride as the Grange is honored as Grand Marshal.

They’ll also flip pancakes from 8 to 11 a.m. July 4th at the Grange, 609 S. 3rd Ave., to celebrate the Grange’s 100 years. Breakfast will cost $5 for youth under 14 and $10 for adults. It will be free for those 70 and older and kids 3 and under.

 “We’re thrilled to be selected as Grand Marshals this year and to bring back the Pancake Breakfast,” said Hilarie Neely, an officer for The Grange. “The Grange plays a very important, but sometimes overlooked, role in our community, so it’s nice to see it honored like this.”

The National Grange was founded in 1867 following the Civil War to give Grangers, as its members are called, the chance to advocate for rural American and agriculture. That role became even more important as subdivisions began eating up farm land and conglomerates squeezed out small farmers.

The Grange has nearly lost its charter three times but has survived to continue to serve as a useful gathering place for the community.

The Upper Big Wood River Grange No. 192, also known as the Hailey Grange, was founded as a nonprofit, nonpartisan fraternal organization in 1923 and was chartered in 1924. It had 49 charter members.

One of its first meetings was to discuss plans for a county-wide movement to advertise and improve the industrial advantages and scenic splendor of Blaine County; 165 people attended. That was followed by “A Mustache and Nightcap” dance. Whiskers for the men and nightcaps for the women were considered formal dress for the occasion.

Considered a local historical icon, the Hailey Grange includes a 40-by-30-foot room that can be used for meetings and dances. It also has a kitchen, stage upright piano and wall covered in mirrors for dance lessons.

Eileen Javaux, the state Grange president, said being a member of a Grange feels like being part of a family as people share the same interests and are committed to working together on community service projects and fundraisers.

“Looking back, the women I have known from the Grange have played a crucial role in shaping my leadership abilities,” she said. “Their wisdom and expertise, whether in quilting or cooking, have been incredibly valuable. My husband and I firmly believe that their influence has also contributed to shaping our daughters into the remarkable individuals they have become…they were passed around during our meetings so I could have time to focus on my projects.

Grace Eakin was born in 1934 on a ranch in Buhl where her parents cultivated fruit trees—something they knew about having grown up in Yakima, Wash. During the war the family moved to Gooding where her parents farmed potatoes, onions, and row crops and milked jersey cows. Their crops were so in demand that her father was deferred from going to war because he was a farmer. And there were so many convoys going between Mountain Home Air Force Base and the Naval rehabilitation hospital at Sun valley Resort that you couldn’t get out on Highway 30, she recalled.

Eakin got a home economics degree at the University of Idaho and married Jim Eakin, who worked for  the UI Extension Office. The two joined the Grange in the 1950s, while managing the Cove Ranch south of Bellevue and raising registered Hereford cattle, grain and hay on their own 160 acres in the Bellevue Triangle.

The Grange was a busy place then with dinners, dances and programs for farmers and ranchers, she recalled.

“Life has been good, but I worked hard, changing irrigation and running after cows and kids,” she quipped.

Knight has watched the organization evolve from the time when Woodside was all farms and Bellevue streets had sheep and cattle in them. Given that, agriculture is no longer the focal point of the Hailey Grange. But it has not lost its usefulness.

Hilarie Neely, the executive director of Footlight Dance Center, has long held dance classes there. The Grange hosts occasional contra dances and potlucks for families and others. The Wood River Seed Library hosts seed sales and gardening demonstrations there, and this past winter a Winter Farmer’s Market was held there.

Others who have used the building in recent years include the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, the Sawtooth Rangers, 4-H and FFA programs, Boy Scouts and Mahoney’s Bar & Grille for its Memorial Day BBQ honoring vets and their families. The Grange also gives out a scholarship each year to a Blaine County High School graduate.

“We are learning today that companionship is related to good health and love of neighbor which the Grange is now building toward with community service as small farming is becoming extinct and lacks the communication of days gone by,” said Knight. “As we move forward today, we are leading with a community garden to teach about gardening, learning how to become more self-sufficient in our ever-changing world and creting a place to make new friends with fun and membership in the local Grange.”






~  Today's Topics ~

Sawtooth Society Honors Redfish Lake Lodge Owner as Wildfire Threatens the Lake

Footlight Dance Center Celebrates 40 Years with Performance by Idaho Dance Theatre and Other Professionals

A Chorus Line-Teen Edition Opens Wednesday










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