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Bemidji Jaycees: 75th anniversary includes Water Carnival display

BEMIDJI – Anyone who might have an older Water Carnival button lying around somewhere is asked to take another look.

The Bemidji Jaycees is set to celebrate its 75th anniversary on Oct. 20. Memorabilia will be on display for the event and, afterward, will be displayed at the Beltrami County History Center.

Memorabilia is planned to include a handmade quilt composed of past Water Carnival T-shirts and a display of all past Water Carnival buttons.

But while all the T-shirts have been located, the button collection is incomplete. The Jaycees are searching for nine missing buttons: those from 1945, 1949, 1951, 1952, 19536, 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1963. Anyone who has one is asked to contact Jerry Hemstad, chairman of the Jaycees’ 75th anniversary committee, at 760-0657. Credit will be given to anyone who contributes to the collection.

Hemstad said buttons are varied, ranging from smaller, 1-inch-wide buttons to those 6 inches across. Some are plastic, others are metal. A few are wooden.

The buttons promote the annual water carnival, but the name of the event also varies. It has been known as the Paul Bunyan Water Carnival, the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival, and even the Paul Bunyan Water Carnival presented by the Bemidji Jaycees.

The use and duration of the names was consistent, Hemstad said, going back and forth between one and the other and then jumping back again.

“We never knew that,” he said of the event’s history. “We’ve learned quite a bit.”

The Jaycees’ celebration will be held at the Hungry bear Banquet and Conference Center with social time beginning at 4:30 p.m. A group photo will be taken at 5:30 p.m. and dinner and a program will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Former Jaycees interested in attending the event are asked to call 444-4401 or email Advanced tickets are $25.

“We’ve had a tremendous response,” Hemstad said.