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Collections boast colorful bits of past
JAMES WOODCOCK/ Gazette Staff On the wall of his office, Billings architect Terry Sukut has Western Days posters that he collected during the years he was involved in the Billings Jaycees. Mike Mahoney did the 1991 artwork of a Plains Indian by a street pole.

Billings architect Terry Sukut compares organizing past Western Days celebrations to throwing a party on a street corner for 10,000 of your NOT closest friends.

The framed posters on his office wall from Western Days celebrations from 1983 to 1991 remind him of his involvement with the Billings Jaycees.

Sukut, who has been an architect in Billings since 1979, chaired one and co-chaired two Western Days celebrations.

"I lived through all these things, and some of them were pretty crazy," Sukut said.

This summer will be the 64th anniversary of the Western Days Parade.

The 1986 poster reminds him of the year that perfect weather produced a fabulous turnout for the street dance. The crowd tested the Jaycees' "supply chain," and long lines backed up at the one tiny booth selling beer tickets.

Inside the booth, two Jaycees sold tickets as fast as they could, speeding up the transaction by dropping the cash onto the floor of the booth, where a third Jaycee gathered it for bank drops. The money, mostly in $1 and $5 bills and smelling of beer, amounted to $32,000.

Back then, a different local artist did the poster's artwork each year. Each artist had free reign in the design, with only the Western Days typeface and the poster's long narrow shape staying consistent from year to year.

"It's amazing the variety that came out," Sukut said. Western images ranged from gunslingers to steam engines. For the celebration in '89, cartoonist Stan Lynde did a mounted cowboy.

A different group of posters on an office wall marks Pat Jaffray's close connection to the Montana Women's Run. For 21 years, Jaffray, the owner and administrator of the Professional Nursing Personnel Pool, has been on the board of the run.

Her poster collection starts in 1987.

"We had no moneys to do posters when we first started out," she said.

Nancy Halter, who originally designed the run's logo of a woman with the flowing hair, turned the image into a patriotic design this year by covering it with stars and stripes.

Halter, a graphic artist at Sutton's Sportswear, did one of the first long, narrow format art posters for Western Days in 1983 and did the ZooGrass artwork for the summer concerts put on as fund-raisers for ZooMontana.