Mu­seum ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures his­tory of soap box rac­ing in Swift Cur­rent

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBENBERG— mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

A long-time Fa­ther's Day tra­di­tion in Swift Cur­rent is the fo­cus of the cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion at the Swift Cur­rent Mu­seum.

The dis­play fea­tures the his­tory of the Swift Cur­rent Soap Box Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and in­cludes two of the orig­i­nal soap box cars that were built 35 years ago.

“This is a lit­tle bit more re­cent his­tory and it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing his­tory,” said Stephanie Ka­duck, the mu­seum’s ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic pro­grams of­fi­cer. “Swift Cur­rent has the long­est-run­ning soap box derby as­so­ci­a­tion in the coun­try and at one point it was the largest in the coun­try. So it’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing sub­ject to ex­plore and it’s im­por­tant for the mu­seum to cover some of the lo­cal groups and the pas­sions of a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity within the com­mu­nity.”

The idea for the ex­hi­bi­tion started when Dee Laverdiere, the cur­rent sec­re­tary of the Swift Cur­rent Soap Box Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, ap­proached the mu­seum and asked if it would be pos­si­ble to dis­play items col­lected by the club at the mu­seum.

“The light bulb went on and I said yes, that would be fan­tas­tic,” Ka­duck re­called. “I didn’t know a whole lot about soap box derby. So I started do­ing some his­tor­i­cal re­search about the orig­i­nal races in Ohio, and then they started bring­ing stuff in. They brought in scrap­books and piles of pho­tographs and then, as it got closer to the time, they brought in the ramps and the cars, and they were also very much in­volved in pro­vid­ing me with the in­for­ma­tion.”

Cur­rent and past mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion have a lot of pride in their club.

Those in at­ten­dance at the ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing on Sept. 20 in­cluded peo­ple who were at the orig­i­nal race in 1983 as well as young rac­ers who have par­tic­i­pated in this year's race.

Ac­cord­ing to Laverdiere the as­so­ci­a­tion wanted to do some­thing to hon­our the late Den­nis Loeppky, who was ac­tively in­volved since the early years of the as­so­ci­a­tion and served as pres­i­dent a num­ber of times.

“So we pur­sued it and Stephanie has been great,” Laverdiere said. “She's gone above and be­yond.”

Laverdiere was im­pressed with the ex­hi­bi­tion and the in­for­ma­tion pre­sented about the club's his­tory and ac­tiv­i­ties.

“This is over­whelm­ing,” she said. “It's awe­some, just the his­tory that we have here. The com­mu­nity sup­port has been phe­nom­e­nal. It's just great, it's be­yond words.”

The mu­seum dig­i­tized the pages of a scrap­book that be­longed to Loeppky, and vis­i­tors to the ex­hi­bi­tion can page through the doc­u­ment on a touch­screen mon­i­tor.

“I put it like this so that peo­ple could ac­tu­ally look at the items and read the ar­ti­cles with­out the scrap­book get­ting dam­aged,” Ka­duck ex­plained. “Even though it is just from 1983, it’s brit­tle, and so rather than have our vis­i­tors dam­age it, we put it on here.”

An­other screen in the ex­hi­bi­tion dis­plays video footage about soap box races in Swift Cur­rent that were recorded by the former CJFB tele­vi­sion sta­tion and the cur­rent South­west TV News.

The ex­hi­bi­tion high­lights the broader his­tory of soap box rac­ing, stretch­ing back to the Great De­pres­sion, and in­cludes in­for­ma­tion about other soap box rac­ing as­so­ci­a­tions in Saskatchewan. It pro­vides de­tails about the his­tory and cur­rent ac­tiv­i­ties of the as­so­ci­a­tion in Swift Cur­rent.

“One of the chal­lenges is track­ing down next-to-new in­for­ma­tion,” Ka­duck said. “I haven’t fin­ished the time­line, be­cause I haven’t found doc­u­ments or news­pa­pers that are giv­ing me the in­for­ma­tion that was in the older news­pa­pers.”

Some­thing that was strik­ing from the his­tory of the soap box rac­ing as­so­ci­a­tion in Swift Cur­rent was the pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm of those who were in­volved with the club.

“They’re al­most a fam­ily,” she said. “They’re a very tight com­mu­nity and the pur­pose of the race is to give par­ents and kids an op­por­tu­nity to work on some­thing to­gether, get some qual­ity time, and to have fun and fair rac­ing.”

That is still the case to­day and Laverdiere talks with a lot of en­thu­si­asm about the club and their ef­forts to at­tract more fam­i­lies.

““I think I have the rac­ing bug,” she said. “There's noth­ing bet­ter than watch­ing our kids go down the hill and watch­ing them win or watch­ing them lose, but con­grat­u­late the win­ner, just the char­ac­ter that comes out of them, the friend­ship and the in­tegrity.”

Jen­nifer Dickson, who is the trea­surer of the Swift Cur­rent Soap Box Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, said it is spe­cial to be part of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that has been a com­mu­nity tra­di­tion for so many years.

“It's some­thing that I'm very proud to have some­thing so unique in our com­mu­nity,” she men­tioned. “We just want to keep that tra­di­tion go­ing and the fun and we would like to re­ally in­still in the kids about be­ing a team, be­ing part of an or­ga­ni­za­tion, be­ing proud, and they learn how to work on their cars, fix their cars, learn great sports­man­ship. It's a fam­ily event that we do.”

Their goal is to keep it af­ford­able to race and the mem­ber­ship fee is $30 per child. The sup­port of spon­sors and fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties make it pos­si­ble to keep that fee low.

“It usu­ally costs us around $5,000 a year to ac­tu­ally hold our races here in Swift Cur­rent,” she said. “That's things like in­surance, we pro­vide the hel­mets for the se­nior rac­ers and we keep an in­ven­tory of parts for the cars.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion has been very ac­tive to pro­mote the or­ga­ni­za­tion and to in­crease the num­ber of soap box rac­ers in the club, and this year there were 21 rac­ers.

“We've just re­ally been work­ing hard at word of mouth, dif­fer­ent things that we can do to get this club go­ing, and talk­ing to the kids,” Dickson said. “The kids are do­ing a great job. They're talk­ing to their friends, say­ing I do soap box rac­ing, and get the kids in­volved that way and in­ter­ested.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion about the his­tory of the Swift Cur­rent Soap Box Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion will be on dis­play at the Swift Cur­rent Mu­seum un­til Oct. 27. The mu­seum is open Mon­day to Fri­day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Satur­days from 1-5 p.m.

Pho­tos by Matthew Liebenberg

A truck from Swift Cur­rent joined trucks from Moose Jaw and Saska­toon for Spe­cial Olympics Saskatchewan’s 12th an­nual World’s Largest Truck Con­voy and the 7th an­nual Truck Pull in Regina, Sept. 15. This was the se­cond year that Swift Cur­rent was a lo­ca­tion for the of­fi­cial con­voy kick­off. Swift Cur­rent Spe­cial Olympics ath­lete Harold Robin­son raised $ 3,120 for Spe­cial Olympics Saskatchewan, al­most dou­ble the amount he col­lected last year and also the high­est in­di­vid­ual amount raised for the event. He was there­fore again able to travel in the truck from Swift Cur­rent to at­tend the event in Regina. Pat Lay­bolt drove the Austin's Courier semi and the trailer was pro­vided by Wan­ner In­dus­tries. Three RCMP ve­hi­cles from the ru­ral de­tach­ment in Swift Cur­rent pro­vided an es­cort for the truck and pilot ve­hi­cles out of the city. Seven trucks joined them in Moose Jaw and a to­tal of 42 trucks par­tic­i­pated in the fi­nal cel­e­bra­tion event at the Tur­vey Cen­tre in Regina, which in­cluded a bar­be­cue, en­ter­tain­ment and a truck pull. The event raised over $17,000 for Spe­cial Olympics Saskatchewan, which will be used to sup­port pro­grams in 17 com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince.

The open­ing event for the Swift Cur­rent Mu­seum's cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion about soap box rac­ing took place on Sept. 20.

Pho­tos by Matthew Liebenberg

Fam­i­lies who have been in­volved with soap box rac­ing over the years at­tended the open­ing event for the Swift Cur­rent Mu­seum's cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion, Sept. 20.

Rac­ing car #64 is one of two orig­i­nal cars from 35 years ago on dis­play at the Swift Cur­rent Mu­seum's cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion about soap box rac­ing.

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