South County celebrates Doyle Days
Jaylenah Fenton-Cook seems pretty happy with her lizard’s performance in the Doyle Days’ World Famous Lizard Races as an unidentified Lizard Caller helps her out of the racing ring. Photo by Sam Williams
Tuesday, Aug. 13 — The four-day work weeks at nearby Sierra Army Depot in Herlong due to the federal government’s sequester may have slowed attendance at this year’s Doyle Days celebration — but nothing dampened the spirits of the locals who participated.
Lyn Haynes, president of Doyle Days, said despite smaller crowds the two-day event held Friday, Aug. 2 and Saturday, Aug. 3 was a smashing success.
“Everything went well,” Haynes said. “There were no fights, no problems and the kids loved the games.”
As many as 30 youngsters entered the World Famous Lizard Races held around noon Saturday at Dixon Park. The action was so hot and furious it took nearly two hours to give each participant a chance to race his or her very own handpicked lizard. According to Haynes, selecting a good lizard and participating in the lizard races has become a family tradition spanning the generations with each family developing a its own secret method for selecting the quickest squamate reptile from the old lizard barn.
And Haynes said this year’s Doyle Days event featured a number of new games for children, including a Hula Hoop contest, sack races and a sunflower seed spitting contest. Haynes said organizers wanted to sponsor events that were not based so much on athletic ability, and the new competitions were such a hit they’ll be included in next year’s Doyle Days.
“The whole community participates, and that’s helpful,” Haynes said. “Everybody gets involved.”
Two vehicles from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office participated in the parade — a first — the Veterans of Foreign Wars held a barbecue and manned a beer booth, local seniors sponsored a flea market, and athletes from Herlong High School ran the Doyle Jale, where those unlucky enough to be caught without a Doyle Days pin were taken into custody and held until some kind soul bailed them out.
Doyle, located about 40 miles south of Susanville, is one of those tiny towns in the rural Western United States with a colorful history.
Winje’s Emporium and Hotel, one of the town’s striking historic buildings, celebrates its centennial this year.
Initially a railroad town, photographer J.B. Dixon recognized a business opportunity supplying goods to the railroad men and stockyard workers in the area when he visited Doyle on a hunting and fishing trip in 2012.
He returned to Texas, gathered his family, loaded up the Model T and headed to California in 1913. His store, designed to sell furniture and farm equipment to the homesteaders settling nearby, changed over the years, becoming a restaurant, gas station, hotel and store.
Mike and Victoria Winje bought the Emporium in 1977, and family members still operate the business that’s been serving residents in its community for 100 years.
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