“The Roundup Reunion,” Ensign, June 1982, 25–27
As we approach the ranch, we see the four ranch houses, green barley fields, grazing cattle, and rolling hillsides rimmed with aspen and pine. Cousins are jumping on the trampoline, riding motorbikes in the pastures, and galloping on horseback at full speed. A little four-year-old leaves his activities and dashes across the lawn to greet us: “D’ya know what? The reunion is starting!” Each arriving carload is welcomed. Brothers and sisters and cousins happily greet each other.
Nearly 150 descendants of Lawrence and Mary Corbridge look forward to this reunion every year at the family ranch on the Blackfoot River near Soda Springs, Idaho. The location and date are always the same. Although families are scattered from the shores of Florida to the coasts of California, they plan their vacations well in advance to include this event that both children and adults anticipate all year.
A barbecue supper brings everyone together. Responsibility for meals and activities is rotated from year to year so that each family can express creativity and ingenuity.
After the barbecue comes the hayride. Excitement mounts as young and old run to find a place on the hay wagons. But they’re in for more than a leisurely ride through the countryside! Bandits attack the wagons, and sheriff and posse come to the rescue. Cattle rustlers, prospectors panning for gold, and Spanish “banditos” (returned missionary cousins dressed in native costumes) have appeared on the scene over the years.
Cousins, both country and city, help develop the plots for the hayride activities and take part in the action. The plot is planned; the dialogue is spontaneous and hilarious.
Several Indian Placement students have been a part of our family group. They are remembered in the fun. One year they told tribal stories and histories.
Evening entertainment continues around the campfire with music and melodrama. Accounts from journals and personal histories are presented as plays. Some are humorous and entertaining; others are spiritual and inspirational. Following this, all ages join in square dancing, the “Hokey-Pokey” and the “Virginia Reel.” The family band (guitars, harmonicas, jug, washtub) plays hoedown music that keeps feet tapping and hands clapping to the Western beat.
As the evening draws to a close, a family prayer is offered under the stars. Mothers depart to bed down the toddlers. Young cousins head for the tent village, and the older folks drop into bed.
The next morning, everyone gathers at 8:00 A.M. for early activities and breakfast. The President of the organization (the oldest living male member) conducts the family meeting. He is assisted by two counselors, a secretary, and a historian.
Missionaries who have returned since the last reunion give their reports. Mothers of missionaries presently in the field report on the activities of their sons and daughters. As young cousins hear these reports year after year, their own determination to serve missions is strengthened. Forty-two members of the family organization have completed full-time missions.
In 1981, the president of the family organization reported that the four-generation project had been submitted on schedule. Team effort was the key to the success. Each of the ancestor couples on our pedigree chart had been assigned to a brother or sister who verified the genealogy sheets for accuracy. Several expressed their feelings that it had been a rewarding experience to do this research. Each one had felt a closer kinship to that particular ancestor.
To feature the four-generation program, the family historian collected heirlooms for a memorabilia display. Always on display during reunions is a beautiful family scrapbook which has been kept current with pictures taken over many years.
Before the family meeting is concluded, future events are discussed, such as family temple excursions for weddings. Every descendant to date has been married in the temple.
Outside activities then continue, starting with the traditional flag parade. The patriarch-president leads the grand march on horseback carrying the national flag. He is followed by a mounted representative from each family carrying a family flag designed by each individual family and kept from year to year. They circle the arena on horseback and then form a straight line. We all recite the pledge of allegiance and sing the national anthem with recorded background music.
The rodeo activities now begin: barrel racing, calf-roping, horse relays, and chariot racing. The “buckaroo rodeo” features little cowboys from the younger generation trying to lasso a pair of horns fixed to a bale of hay pulled on a little red wagon. Dressed in chaps and cowboy boots, they ride bucking horses improvised from broomsticks.
The “baby derby” features crawling, toddling, and running contests. Fun-loving nieces enjoy a queen contest. All receive an award for sportsmanship.
Lunch is served and then everyone pursues a variety of activities to their liking for the afternoon, such as football, volleyball, fishing, and trail rides on horses or motorbikes. An exercise wheel used for training horses is improvised for a kiddie merry-go-round. Swings, teeter-totters, and a trampoline are available for all ages.
Floating the Blackfoot River that winds through the ranch is especially fun. Kayaks, rubber rafts, and tubes splash and bob up and down as shouts are heard from those aboard. Mischievous cousins ambush the unsuspecting. Only the fortunate, the aged, and the babies step ashore dry. This is why it is the last activity of the day and of the family reunion.
As we say farewell for another year, we realize that our family is closer—that there are warmer ties binding us together than ever before.