Letter: Offering ideas for saving Holland Happening


I am writing to express my agreement with the sentiment shared by Autumn Sundown in her Jan. 8 Sound Off opinion piece.

Having lived in Oak Harbor for 50 years, I also mourn the loss of the big oak tree, the windmill, “City Beach” and, now, Holland Happening.

Although I am not Dutch, I always appreciated the Dutch heritage of this community. Holland Happening was a great family event that celebrated the roots of the town.

My children would return with their children to be part of this event until last year when it became a “Spring Festival.”

A spring festival is not unique and certainly doesn’t reflect the Dutch heritage of Oak Harbor.

I have a few thoughts/ideas that might be considered by the chamber:

• Bring back the Dutch Dinner prepared by the high school culinary students. The late Jan Ellis gave them her recipes, and the last time they put on the dinner it was delicious. Check their competition schedule and move the dates of Holland Happening if necessary.

The last reason for not having the dinner was a conflict with their state competition. Also, publicize the dinner more with a feature article in the newspaper and on the chamber’s website.

Oak Harbor is a transient community due to the military presence. Do the new residents even have a clue about what a Dutch dinner is?

• There used to be a tulip show as part of the event. Perhaps the Oak Harbor Garden Club would be willing to take this on as a community service project.

Contact tulip growers in the Skagit Valley. They might help if their tulips were used for the show, or they might have some suggestions.

• The wooden shoe carver couldn’t come from Michigan anymore due to his age. Was an online search done for someone to replace him?

• Contact the chamber in Lynden for ideas. This is a community that still has many Dutch residents. Maybe they would know of Dutch craftsmen. They have Dutch residents who do quilting, make lace, etc. Would some of them be willing to demonstrate their skills?

There is also a wonderful Dutch bakery there. Would they have a booth here with Dutch treats?

• Some of the school children used to march in the parade with Dutch hats/lace caps. Could the music teachers teach them a simple Dutch song and/or dance to perform?

• In the afternoon there was music and performances by ethnic dance groups which added a multicultural flavor to Holland Happening. Some came from the Seattle area, but some were local. The All-Island Community Band has an Oompah Band that always played. They still exist. With Google it shouldn’t be difficult to locate dance/music groups like this.

• Encourage restaurants to feature some Dutch items on their menus. Now that Chris’ Baker is here again, I’m sure they would prepare Dutch specialties the week of the event.

One of the goals of the chamber is to promote tourism and help local businesses survive and prosper.

People tend to visit places that are unique and have character.

Unfortunately the sewer treatment plant and the redesigned “City Beach” park minus the windmill probably will not be a big draw for most tourists.

Hopefully, a revived version of Holland Happening could be.

Claudia Talmadge,

Oak Harbor

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