Community celebrates Park City's mining heritage

Published: Monday, Sept. 3 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

Martinez helped organize some of the first competitions about 45 years ago, back when he was newly married and the cash prize was only $35. Winners at Monday's event walked away with $500 for first place, $400 for second place and $300 for third place in each event.

Martinez's grandson, "little Richie" Martinez, competed in the drilling contest.

The eight men competing in the mucking competition tested their speed as they worked to fill the mucker, a small tractor scoop and cart built to run on the mine's rail system.

Payson resident and longtime Miners Day competitor Remigio "Reggie" Portillo claimed the top prize, filling the mucker in 50.08 seconds. Portillo was followed by Chris Lamb of Sandy in second place and Larry Simpson of Heber City in third place.

Portillo said he and his family have made Miners Day an annual tradition for more than a decade. He was won 11 past Miners Day competitions, which he humbly accredited to luck and hard work while his family teased that the secret lies in his signature white cowboy hat.

He called Miners Day a family event.

"We make a day of it," Portillo said. "I don't come up here to win money, just to see how I do."

He and wife Jody celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary at Miners Day.

"We actually got married on Aug. 31 so that we could always celebrate our anniversary up here on Labor Day," Jody Portillo said. "It's just an exciting thing for us."

Reggie Portillo, who is 62, said he hopes to match this year's oldest competitor, 87-year-old Bernard Billings of Murray. Billings won last year's mucking competition and got a rousing cheer from the crowd for his 1-minute, 2.74-second finish.

In the drilling competition, miners were required to lug a 130-pound drill up to a prepared sandstone boulder and drill two channels about 2 feet deep into the target spots they had been assigned.

Lamb claimed first in the drilling event for his second win of the day, making his combined prize $900. Lamb finished his hole in 1:57.07. Second place went to Brian Still of Spanish Fork, who had a time of 2:00.86. Rick Thomas of Idaho Springs, Colo., claimed third place by a fraction of a second, logging a time of 2:04.09, ahead of Spencer Brown of Carlin, Nev., and his 2:04.25.

Still's elderly mother, Muriel Williams, gushed about her son and the drilling competition after the event.

"This is about six years that I've been coming," Williams said. "It's wonderful. I love every minute of it."

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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