The Ontonagon Rum Runners Win High School Local History Smackdown

The Ontonagon Rum Runners deliberate over a question during the 2007 Smackdown.
The Ontonagon Rum Runners deliberate over a question during round 2 of the 2007 Smackdown

NPS Photo, Dan Johnson

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News Release Date: April 27, 2007

Contact: Abby Sue Fisher, (906) 337-1207, ext. 250

In the eighth round, with the championship hanging in the balance, the Ontonagon Rum Runners were faced with a true or false question: was it really true that the federal government hired out-of-work musicians to entertain Copper Country residents during the Great Depression? Even after two and a half hours of intense competition, the Rum Runners confidently pronounced it "true" and hoisted the Smackdown trophy to the applause of a crowded Calumet Theatre and their proud coach, Richard Franti.

The Rum Runners - Matt Axley, Gabrielle Kaikko, Kaleena Labine, and Lizzie Corser – joined 67 other high school students from the 4-county area to compete in the 5th Annual High School Local History Smackdown. The Smackdown requires teams to answer questions about local history and geography, covering topics as diverse as immigration history, natural resources, and mining terminology. Two wrong answers and teams are out of play, leaving the last team standing as champions. In addition to taking home the traveling trophy, the Rum Runners left with jump drives, a $100 gift certificate for their school library, and perhaps most importantly after a long evening, a pizza party. Narrowly coming in second were the Firesteel Phantoms, also from Ontonagon. Third place honors were shared by Manchester United from Baraga, the Hancock Bulldogs-Gals from Hancock, and the Favorites from Jeffers. All of them went home with pizza parties as well.

The event took place on Thursday, April 26th at the historic Calumet Theatre. Twelve other teams participated, including: Ontonagon’s third team, the Rolling Boulders; Hancock’s Bulldogs-Guys; Jeffers’ At Least it's Not Canada, the PD Crew, Royal Paines, and the P-Dale Posse; the Easily Amused from Chassell; BRIDGE’s Space Banditos and Glittering Green Squirrels; Baraga's Ugly Porcupines; and Lake Linden-Hubbell's Extras and Grand Hustle Team of Kings. "The students put a lot of effort into preparing for the Smackdown," said Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Abby Sue Fisher. "It's great to see how much some of these kids know about the history of the four counties. We're looking forward to planning for next year."

The contest is part of the Fourth Thursday in History program sponsored by Keweenaw National Historical Park. Additional support for this year's Smackdown was provided by the Calumet Theatre, as well as Range Bank, River Valley State Bank, Pat's Foods and Festival Foods, Keweenaw Memorial Medical Center, Homestead Graphics, and the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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