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City goes Dutch for Holland Happening

Sarah Nienhuis was among the crew of volunteers busy preparing for Friday evening’s Dutch dinner at the First Reformed Church. The annual dinner that kicks off Holland Happening takes two weeks of preparation and 50 volunteers to produce. - Cynthia Woolbright / Whidbey News-Times
Sarah Nienhuis was among the crew of volunteers busy preparing for Friday evening’s Dutch dinner at the First Reformed Church. The annual dinner that kicks off Holland Happening takes two weeks of preparation and 50 volunteers to produce.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright / Whidbey News-Times

Klompen will be stompin’ as festival sweeps into town

Holland Happening is a North Whidbey staple that has grown into an impressive production as the Dutch and Dutch-for-a-day cater to every age group with myriad activities through Sunday.

“We always stress community and laud the uniqueness of the Oak Harbor community,” said Heather Johnson, Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce event coordinator.

“Holland Happening is the perfect encapsulation of what makes this place special. It’s unbelievable how many moving parts work together to make this event happen. Any doubters need only take a stroll downtown over the weekend,” she said.

Steeped in Dutch tradition, Holland Happening is not about exclusivity but sharing a culture distinctly Oak Harbor. And it is much more.

“Holland Happening of course pays homage to the Dutch settlers who helped make Oak Harbor what it is today,” Johnson said. “But it is also a chance for friends and neighbors to come together and enjoy their town.”

Events kicked off Thursday with the art walk on Pioneer Way and the Harborside Shops showcasing the works of Oak Harbor’s elementary school students. The walk will be held all day, each day, through Sunday. The Family Carnival near the waterfront on Bayshore Drive also began Thursday and will be open through Sunday.

The popular — and filling — pancake breakfast, sponsored by the North Whidbey Firefighters Association, will be held today, April 26, from 7 to 11 a.m. at the Heller Road fire station.

The fifth annual, family-oriented Eagle Run is becoming a contender for favorite activity. Starting and finishing at Windjammer Park, registration is at 6:30 a.m. and the out and back loop run will begin at 8 a.m.

From 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., the Whidbey Whirlers Dangle Dance will please festival-goers at the Kenmore Air Entertainment Stage on Pioneer Way. The performers will offer an encore performance Saturday from 7:45 to 11 p.m. in Oak Harbor High School’s Parker Hall. A final encore will take place Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon, also at the high school

The Kenmore stage will feature additional entertainment Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

The Alaska USA Street Fair, held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, will provide plenty of pseudo-window shopping along Pioneer Way and chances to purchase crafts and fine foods from all over the globe.

Holland Happening will reach a crescendo at 11 a.m. Saturday when the Geico Grand Parade makes its way down Pioneer Way and Bayshore Drive. And Dutch shoe carver Elmer Veldheer makes his annual trek from Holland, Mich. and will work his magic Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Another highly popular event, the Deception Pass Tours Klompen Canal Race, will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday. Mini wooden shoes will race down a manmade canal on Pioneer Way.

The Harbor Tower Village Retirement Community will host an open house at the historic Neil Tower on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. The Empire Gives Back charity fundraiser for the Island County Red Cross will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. at 1150 SE Dock St.

“From the the Eagle Run, to the Klompen Canal Race, to the popular parade, Holland Happening truly does have something for everyone,” Johnson said. “There is no way not to have a good time, rain or shine. But hopefully shine.”

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