Oak Harbor celebrates its Dutch roots this weekend

The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce came up with a unique way to try to reduce its inventory of klompen. It turned the wooden shoes from the Netherlands into planters. They
The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce came up with a unique way to try to reduce its inventory of klompen. It turned the wooden shoes from the Netherlands into planters. They'll be on sale this weekend at Holland Happening in downtown Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Kathy Reed

In years to come, who knows what might become of the wooden shoes that were once a signature of Oak Harbor’s Holland Happening.

To move the inventory, Kathy Reed is open to suggestions.

When Oak Harbor’s Dutch celebration gets underway this weekend in historic downtown for the 45th time, a familiar sight will take on an unusual appearance.

Klompen, customarily known as wooden clogs from the Netherlands, are being sold as planters.

With roughly 100 pair in storage, and only a few sold last year, it was time to use the imagination, according to Reed, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

“We have klompen coming out of our ears,” Reed said.

“We love them. It’s fun. They just don’t have the appeal they once did. Times have changed.”

Holland Happening, a celebration of Oak Harbor’s Dutch heritage in conjunction with King’s Day, a national holiday in the Netherlands, starts Friday night and won’t stop until late Sunday.

The bulk of the activity is centered around the street fair on Pioneer Way that goes from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

The biggest attraction, the grand parade, starts at 11 a.m. Saturday on Pioneer Way. The parade route travels along Bayshore Drive then back on to Pioneer before winding up near the Ace Hardware parking lot.

That route will be closed to traffic during the parade and a good portion of Pioneer Way will remain that way until Sunday evening.

The Maui Avenue gate to the Seaplane base of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will be closed from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday to allow for safe staging of the parade. The Torpedo Road gate will be open.

The grand marshal for the parade will be Reka (Van Wieringen) Adamson.

At age 100, Adamson is believed to be Oak Harbor High School’s oldest living graduate.

She is a member of the Class of 1931.

“She’s been talking about what she’s going to wear,” said Kim Kaahanui, Reka’s granddaughter.

The parade, street fair, carnival and entertainment on two stages are among the Holland Happening highlights this year as well as the return of the Dutch Dinner Friday night.

On Sunday, there will even be klompen canal races.

The klompen’s popularity took a hit last year when shoe carver Elmer Veldheer from Holland, Mich., missed the Oak Harbor event for the first time in more than 20 years.

Decorated klompen will still be on sale, ranging from $5-$15. Klompen with plants range from $10-$20.

There is talk next year of a klompen birdhouse.

“Without a shoe carver, it lost a lot of impetus,” Reed said.


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