With the recent annual Easter egg hunt and a very special open house for the Butler Museum this past weekend, Babe Curtis Park in Butler has been a very busy place lately. Highlighting the efforts of several of the communitys long standing organizations, both events were a resounding success that saw hundreds of local residents and visitors come out to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
A tradition for more than 40 years, the Butler Ruritan Club sponsored the egg hunt, which saw dozens upon dozens of excited children and their parents scouring the park grounds to collect as many plastic eggs as they could find. Giving away nearly $300 in all, most of the more than 500 eggs contained shiny new quarters, but even more special were the limited silver and gold eggs that contained dollar coins.
Larry Shoun was the traditional Master of Ceremonies, explaining the rules of the hunt which included a slight head start for the smaller children, before the proverbial gates were opened to everyone and the hunt was on in earnest. What took volunteers several hours to hide was ultimately concluded in a measure of minutes, but the excitement and thrill of the moment was plain to see as kids combed the park grounds to find every last egg.
As the eggs disappeared the hunters came forward for their prizes, cashing in on the front porch of the museum. Some walked away with as much as $10 to their credit, but for the most part the results were fairly even, considering the large number of children present. Having held the egg hunt each year since at least the early 1970s, the Ruritan Club considers the event as one of their longest running services in the community and certainly one of the most colorful.
Yet, the Ruritan Club and the many activities they sponsor throughout the year is just one group that makes Butler a special place harkening all the way back to its early history as an incorporated town now lying under the waters of Watauga Lake. Tasked with helping preserve this truly unique history and heritage is the Watauga Valley Historical Association who operates and maintain the Butler Museum. Normally open on weekends through the summer and early fall, members of the Museum Board recently decided to offer a warm welcome to many of the other entities in the community like the Ruritan Club, as well as local fire departments, churches, utilities, and schools by hosting a very successful open house.
A chance to meet and greet with people around the community, the museum saw a strong turnout Sunday evening with notable guests such as Little Milligan Elementary Principal J.R. Campbell, as well as several local candidates, elected officials, and former county officers including Tommy Poore, Commissioner Jimmy Lowe, and former Tax Assessor B.C. Stout. The open house was announced to the general public as well and museum board members were kept busy with a steady stream of visitors all evening.
Refreshments were served in the restored W.S. Stout Store on the opposite end of the park grounds and visitors were given the chance to see the new displays and artifacts that have been incorporated recently into the museums general exhibits. Overall it was a good opportunity to bring a variety of local leaders together to share their work in the continuing story of Butler.
When Ms. Selma Curtis originally donated and left the land for the park that now bears her name it was with the hope that the spirit of the Town that Wouldnt Drown would continue on. Now a couple decades out there have undeniably been some bumps along the way, but the desire to see Butler grow and thrive is still strong. The days of Watauga Academy, the Blue Bird Tea Room, and Bird Eyes Service Station may be long gone but their memory continues to be preserved and now a new heritage has sprouted with its own set of traditions like the annual Easter egg hunt. Old and young, past and present, there are many factors that define place, but as the past two weekends in Babe Curtis Park have shown, taken together they paint a very vivid portrait.