Picnicto honor Birch Bay families

Published on Thu, Jul 27, 2006 by ara Nelson

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Picnic to honor Birch Bay families

By Tara Nelson

Four Blaine and Birch Bay families will be featured in this year’s Old Settler’s Picnic and parade in Ferndale.

Birch Bay resident Jan Boykin, will be one of approximately 30 members of the original Vogt family to act as the grand marshals of the parade and be honored at the event.

Boykin is the great granddaughter of Charles Vogt, of Berlin, Germany, who came to Birch Bay in 1871 aboard the H.B. Libby steamboat. The boat carried many of the area’s first inhabitants.
Nancy Reilly, parade and entertainment chair of the Old Settler’s Association, said the board chose the Vogt family because of their long history in the area and because Birch Bay was the site of the association’s first picnics.

“We try to honor old settlers,” Reilly said. “There were a few others that had settled here before, but they’re gone or live somewhere else now.”

The first Old Settler’s picnic was held 111 years ago, near the current location of the C Shop in Birch Bay.

Residents from throughout the county would ride from as far away as Sumas and Lynden on horse-drawn wagons to spend a weekend at the beach and mingle with other Whatcom County residents.

Within a few years, however, the organization began looking for a more permanent picnic location.

In 1901, the association purchased four acres of uncut river front property in Ferndale, which was then known as “Jam” because of a logjam that blocked the Nooksack River, according to the association’s web site.

During the pre World War I period, the Pioneer Picnic was held on the last weekend in July and would often feature speeches from dignitaries, musical programs, foot races and baseball games.

Reilly said her biggest challenge these days – besides getting people to leave their horses at home – is making residents from all of Whatcom County feel welcome to the event.

“We really do try to get more and more of the county involved,” she said. “People think because we have the picnics in Ferndale, that it’s only for Ferndale residents. So we’re trying to reach everyone.”

Boykin said she was honored for her family to be given the recognition.

“The entire family feels honored that they asked us because we were homesteaders of the Birch Bay area,” she said.

The picnic is scheduled for July 27 through 30 at Pioneer Park in Ferndale. The parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, July 29 in Ferndale.

Picnic activities include arts, crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides, log cabin historical displays, a flower and garden show, a classic car show, food vendors and a beer garden.

For a complete schedule of events by day, visit www.whatcomoldsettlers.com For more information, call 371-2032.