Oak Harbor's Holland Happening will be missing popular shoe carver, other staples remain

Shoe carver Elmer Veldheer will be absent from Holland Happening on April 27-28.  - file photo
Shoe carver Elmer Veldheer will be absent from Holland Happening on April 27-28.
— image credit: file photo

Katie Salinas doesn’t see herself carving wooden shoes any time soon.

“I couldn’t imagine ever having to do it,” she said.

Salinas is the director of Holland Happening, one of Oak Harbor’s biggest annual festivals.

The 44th celebration of Oak Harbor’s Dutch heritage is April 27-28 downtown but will be missing one of its most popular attractions.

For the first time in more than 20 years, shoe carver Elmer Veldheer will not be making the trip from Holland, Mich., to Oak Harbor.

“We will not have a shoe carver this year,” Salinas said.

“There are only three in the United States who even do it.”

“Having one come out is pretty much out of our budget.”

Veldheer, 83, informed festival officials last year that it would be his last due to worsening arthritis.

“His last year was actually 2011 but we begged him to come back in 2012 and he did,” Salinas said.

Jan Ellis called Veldheer’s absence a shame but knows the festival will go on with lots to offer the community. She should know. She’s been a part of the Holland Happening committee every year since the first one in 1970.

Ellis served as chair or co-chair of the festival’s entertainment for 23 of the first 25 festivals.

“I kept wanting to retire from entertainment,” said Ellis, who turns 81 in July. “I was finally able to retire from that but I’ve kept on with the committee as Holland Happening historian. I figure by now I am a figure head who walks around in a costume.”

Ellis will don an authentic Dutch costume from the province of Zeeland at the festival.

She and other members of a Holland-American Koffie Klets group she recently formed will staff a booth that will display costumes, tiles and wooden “klompen” shoes.

Ellis said the group outgrew its first meeting location and will hold its next meeting at San Remo Restaurant on Midway Boulevard from 2:30-4 p.m. on April 25.

Those interested to join the group may call Ellis at 360-675-2552.

Planning for the 44th Holland Happening is going well, Salinas said, noting booth spaces filled up “very, very fast. Faster than last year.”

Salinas said the configuration of the booths downtown will be different, allowing for additional booths and more space for walking.

The carnival will be set up in time for rides to start on April 25.

The parade isSaturday morning, April 27.

Salinas said the number of parade entries is similar to last year when there were roughly 100.

Salinas said Holland Happening carnival tickets, tiles, T-shirts and shoes already are on sale at Oak Harbor’s Chamber of Commerce office.


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