NATOMA — Above the crowd at the 79th annual Natoma Labor Day Celebration, a drone flew.
Noticing the buzz, the audience would look upward to see it floating around, taking video and photographs while remaining fairly steady in the sometimes high wind that would blow through the park area.
On the ground, Scott Schwien operated the DJI Phantom 3 Standard drone from nothing more than his smartphone clipped onto the control panel. A computer technician who does the I.T. work for Masters Oil in Natoma, Schwien ran the drone for his grandfather, Milan Masters. The Phanton 3 was an early 80th birthday gift for masters.
“We were at Sam’s (Club), and he saw that,” said Fonna Schwien, Scott’s mother. “Grandma said, ‘Well, it’s your birthday coming up, there ya go.’ He bought his own birthday present.”
A gift Masters received a few weeks ago, Schwien was doing footage of the Labor Day event he said he plans to have on Youtube.com, titled “Natoma Labor Day-Drone” sectioned into parts for a series.
“If you get the more expensive ones, they automatically adjust for wind,” Schwien said of the use of drones. “You do have to counter-act with some of the wind, but not all of it. With some of these wind gusts that have been coming up, you have to lean into those. But aside from that little gust, it will actually counter for that.”
The drone moved around the crowd from one activity to another at the celebration that drew a good size crowd into the small Osborne County town.
Among some of the events taking place were the car and bike show on the show side of the elevator, while the money scramble for kids happened on the north side in the morning. After the money scramble, there was the three-legged race and sack race for children and adults. Across the street, vendors selling art and food trucks were available. The Lions Club of Natoma had a lunch stand set up.
Straight north of the vendors area was the greased-pig event, put on by the Natoma High School FFA organization. The high school group helped line up the six small pigs for each round of the chase they would go through as FFA sponsor Jeremy Long did the public address work.
“(The greased-pig contest) is a popular event at fairs and events around Kansas and the country,” said Long, who is starting his 10th year as the agriculture teacher at Natoma. “My FFA members kind of chose to do that for the community. Things like this help promote FFA into the community and to get the pigs out here and the kids. Everybody always comes out, and we had really good attendance.”
The FFA members would soak the pigs with water and a soap substance instead of using grease between each of the events that started with 5- to 7-year-olds and went up to adults. For each age group, the challenge would become more difficult for someone to win the round — starting with the youngest just needing to grab and hold on to a pig’s leg for three seconds to the older groups, picking a pig up and placing it in the center of the hay bales. The pigs were donated by Murphy Farms.
The greased pig contest has been going for four years and always draws a large crowd.
“Everybody knows about it and asks about it every year before Labor Day,” Long said. “It’s been kind of a community staple. It’s great.”
The celebration went all day and included an afternoon parade.