In our opinion: Holland Happening may have changed, but name should not

Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce leaders learned that a tulip called by another name may not smell as sweet.

News that the chamber is changing the name of the 51-year-old Holland Happening event to “Spring Festival” upset many in the community and spawned two petition efforts to quash the change.

Chamber leaders should listen to the community on this one. However, it’s also incumbent on those bemoaning the name change to step up and help bring some of “Holland” back to Holland Happening.

Perhaps this controversy will spark more public interest and engagement in the event.

“Spring Festival” is pretty mundane and reeks of becoming the big-box store of festivals. Nonspecific, something for everyone, nothing new or challenging. The name has no special meaning to Oak Harbor and recalls no traditions.

The problem, though, is that Holland Happening has evolved into something close to a generic spring festival. Ten years ago, the popular Dutch dinner held by the First Reformed Church was canceled because the longtime organizer could no longer do it, and no one took her place. Oak Harbor children are growing up without the taste of oliebollen, erwtensoep and hutspot.

Once upon a time, so many leading citizens in Oak Harbor had ancestry traced back to the Netherlands that they were referred to as the “Dutch Mafia.” They helped make Holland Happening a true celebration of Dutch heritage in a fun and inviting way.

Most of those people are no longer around. Festival organizers struggled to maintain the Dutch traditions. Some people who traveled to Oak Harbor for a Dutch-themed celebration were disappointed to find a scatter-shot festival with the usual carnival rides, pizza and ice cream, arts and crafts.

Thankfully, the Klompen shoe races, parade marchers dressed in old-fashioned Dutch garb and tulips galore continue as part of the festival.

Perhaps the change was inevitable. The demographics aren’t the same. Oak Harbor isn’t a city that dwells on its heritage, but values progress and utilitarianism. Many historic structures have been razed, including the iconic windmill in Windjammer Park. There are only vague plans to rebuild it “someday.”

Holland Happening is a festival that brings together the community, and a disagreement over a name shouldn’t change that.

For now, keep the old name and work to enliven the Dutch aspects of the festival, all while embracing the quirkiness of a unique Oak Harbor event.

More in Opinion

In Our Opinion: It’s time for governor to put social distancing behind us

It’s time for the days of mandatory social distancing to come to… Continue reading

Sound Off: Coverage of clear-cutting on island doesn’t tell complete story

Your recent article, “Despite how it may seem, clear-cutting not increasing,” lacks… Continue reading

From the Editor: Press releases always welcome, but they are just the first step

People are a lot more savvy about how newspapers work than they… Continue reading

Manke
Sound Off: This is a time to renew our pledge to remember the fallen

For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The end of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Illegal or not, Coupeville school board actions troubling

As role models for students, school boards should strive to follow the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: With candidate filing week at hand, it’s time to run for office

The outcome of this year’s election could have a significant impact on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Rethinking proposed bans on natural gas

By Don Brunell Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be… Continue reading

Sound Off: State’s military, economy rely on Super Hornet funding

Washington state is an important state for our country’s Armed Services and… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: History of Whidbey Island law enforcement is one of reform

Whidbey Island residents are lucky to have the professionally run law enforcement… Continue reading

Sound Off: Climate on the agenda this year; carbon tax should be too

A few weeks into the new administration, the federal government is off… Continue reading

Smaller, safer nuclear reactors in works for Hanford reservation

It isn’t often we hear good news from the Hanford, but the… Continue reading