By Jared Janzen
HALSTEAD—Last weekend had a different feel to it with so many beloved Old Settlers traditions not taking place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A handful of Halstead residents shared with The Independent what they missed most from Old Settlers, this year.
Stephanie Cornejo simply said she missed everything.
“It should have started on Thursday with all the activities for the kids,” she said. “That’s usually what keeps them busy, which is super nice.”
Though she and her family have only lived in Halstead the past 6-1/2 years, her Old Settlers memories go all the way back to her childhood.
“I was from Newton, but I grew up coming here for Old Settlers,” Cornejo said. “Both of my parents worked here in Halstead.”
She remembers climbing up the fire escape ladder of the old Daylight Donut Shop as a kid and watching the street dance on Main Street.
“Oh yes, lots of memories,” she said. “[…] It’s always just been part of our life. It’s a tradition and we’re always here.”
Cornejo was sitting with Ted and Kari Anderson to watch the fireworks show. Together, the three of them listed off archery, horseshoes, the parade, softball and mud volleyball as events they were missing. Ted had been looking forward to joining the barbecue competition for the first time.
Kari noted that her birthday is during Old Settlers, but the celebration wasn’t the same without all the Old Settlers activities. She was grateful for the fireworks, at least.
“It’s better than nothing,” Kari said.
Justin and Jamee Schneider were also at the fireworks show with their kids.
“This is the first thing we’ve done,” Justin said about the fireworks. “It feels like we can never leave the house anymore.”
The family just moved to town, but Justin was on a Great Race team last year and they also went to the parade a few years ago.
“There was no cornhole tournament,” Justin noted. “They took all that away.”
Some younger festival-goers also offered their opinion on what they missed this year.
“We usually do the Gaga Ball tournament and that’s fun,” Dominique Schutte said. “It’s hot because it’s the middle of the day, but it’s so much fun.”
“I miss the Great Race because most of us big kids have a big team and so missing out on that was sad,” her sister, Dalaina Schutte, added.
The team that the Schutte sisters were on in the Great Race finished last a year ago and they said they’d been hoping to improve and maybe get second-to-last this year. Tessa Williams added she missed the Little Great Race, since this would have been her final year to be young enough to participate.
“It’s still kind of fun that they’re doing the fireworks,” Dalaina said. “It’s still Old Settlers.”