Reunion: Occupation of Joe Wheeler Park begins

By David Talley | Published Saturday, July 19, 2014

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Several of the historic cabins at the Wise County Reunion grounds are getting makeovers.

Cabin owners and hired hands have been out at the park for almost two weeks, preparing the short-term residences for the week of Reunion.

This Old House

THIS OLD HOUSE – David Wade takes a break from repairing the Woodruff Family Cabin at the Wise County Reunion Grounds. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Chase Chapman, owner of Chapman Irrigation, said his cabin is getting new sod laid to prepare for the ever-popular washer tournament.

“We spend a lot of time out here playing,” Chapman said, “it’s better than just being out in the road.”

Chapman’s team has medaled in three of the past four washer tournaments. This year, the tournament’s single-elimination format has several teams changing their approach to the competition.

Serious Business

SERIOUS BUSINESS – Boards for the washer tourney are laid out. Organizers plan to go for a world record at the event. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“The strategy is simple,” Chapman said. “Don’t lose a game.”

This year’s tournament, to be held on Tuesday, is going for a Guinness world record and is expected to attract more than 100 teams.

Just down the road from Chapman’s cabin, David Wade is busy working on another cabin.

The contractor said time has played a big role in the degradation of several cabins’ structural stability.

“After 60-plus years, things start to fall apart,” Wade said. “You have to stay on top of it. With weathering aging the wood, it’s gotten a bit shaky.”

In recent years, several of the dilapidated wooden structures at the park have been replaced by steel buildings.

For short-term improvements, Wade plans to run braces around the cabin, hoping to make up for years of damage.

“Age has a way of making things wear out,” Wade said. “There’s a lot of work to be done here.”

Jumping for Joy

JUMPING FOR JOY – Chase Chapman leaps over newly laid sod Wednesday at the Reunion Grounds at Joe Wheeler Park in Decatur. The grass came in a day before 4 1/2 inches of rain poured down on Wise County. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


Monday Night

Mr. and Miss Pageant 7 p.m. Ages 6 months to 9 years

Theme: Picnic in the Park

Sponsored by Chalet of Jewelry and Sarah Jane’s Flower Shop. Applications available at Decatur Chamber of Commerce, Legend Bank, Chalet of Jewelry, DATCU and North Texas Bank.

Tuesday Night

“Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” Washer Tournament

Pre-Register at

Registration and check-in 4 p.m. at Reunion Grounds

Tournament starts 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday Night

The Hinkles followed by Rick Bowling and Roland Upton “Ric & Rol” 7 p.m.

Thursday Night

Arrendadores del Valle 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Friday Night

Mike Ryan 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Phil Hamilton 11 p.m.

Saturday Night

Jake Hooker and The Outsiders 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Midway Entertainment Provided By: Happy World

Fresh Grass

FRESH GRASS – Garrett Blevins moves squares of fresh sod around Chase Chapman’s cabin in preparation for the Old Settlers’ Reunion. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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