TONASKET — Roger and Lori Sawyer were surprised to be named as this year’s Founders Day Grand Marshals, but say they are honored to serve.
“You know it’s an honor to be Grand Marshal of a community festival, but it was definatly not expected, it was a surprise,” said Roger Sawyer.
“There are way better people than us that need to be acknowledged. There are so many others that have done so much more for the community… a lot of old-timers,” agrees Lori Sawyer.
The couple both suggest Dick Didra as a possibility, one of the founders of the Pro West Rodeo Association.
The couple, however, are both hiding their own light under a bushel basket, so to speak. They have been very involved in the Comancheros Rodeo Club — Sawyer since he moved to Tonasket from Oroville ten years ago and Lori for longer yet.
“If the community needs a volunteer I usually go do it,” he said.
She points out that her husband has done a lot in the community, while she is probably better known for her work at North Valley Hospital.
In addition to the work Roger has done helping to organize the annual Founders Day Rodeo, he also brought the Truck and Tractor Pull which is growing in popularity each year.
“Lori and I started the New Year’s Fireworks and Potluck at the rodeo grounds,” he adds.
“And he also does the ice skating ring out there,” she said.
They say that this past year was one of the best for the ice skating rink.
“I think I might have finally figured out how to do it,” he said about the rink he builds at the rodeo grounds.
While they aren’t sure what they will be riding in the parade he said he guarantees it will not be a horse.
“I leave the horse riding up to Lori, she likes to ride and drive cattle. She can be on a horse, I’ll put a saddle on my quad,” he said.
Between the two they have six children, three each. She says she has a couple other step-children that call her mom as well.
Roger said, “My daughter Christina is a volunteer for the Snoqualmie Valley Fire Department and she is bringing over several of her fellow firefighters and their families to this year’s Founders Day,”
He has put in 33 years running Sawyer and Sawyer, an excavation company which he took over from his father, the late Walter Sawyer. Sawyer and Sawyer has been running the Columbia River Carbonates quarry near Wauconda and the loading station near the Janis Bridge. CRC’s white rock product is probably most visible at their loading station near Janis Bridge. From there the rock is loaded onto the shortline railroad.
That is coming to an end in the next couple of months, Roger said.
“The quality of the stone has been going down, when they started in 1985 they predicted the mine would last 40 years. It’s been 33 years so it didn’t miss by too much. The owner, who is out of Woodland, Washington, said closing is one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make,” he said.
His job contracting with CRC is ending and Lori recently quit work at the hospital, but the couple won’t have to look too far for something to do. They bought Detros Western Store in Riverside at the end of March and will be reopening the store back up soon, they say.
Another example of the couple’s dedication to Founders Day is the fact that the community float was parked in one of the bays at the Sawyer and Sawyer shop. They’ve been working on getting it ready for the parade, whose theme this year is “Wild, Wild, West.”
When asked if they were going to make it on time, Roger said they’d probably be putting the finishing touches on the float the night before the parade.
“The best floats are always finished up the night before,” he said. “We’re just country folks who are community-minded.”
“We like to work behind the scenes,” she adds.