Three years ago, Conni Riley proposed a new event to Oakland Economic Development. Riley wanted to capitalize on her love of other Living History events and bring the idea home.
“It was a pretty natural thought since we’re one of the oldest cities in all of Oregon,” said Riley. “I love going to Living History Day events and it would go well with our small historic town.”
The planning of the first event in 2016 took a year. According to Oakland Mayor Bette Keehley, the turnout this year has been great and they have almost kept the concept this year. In 2017, the city hosted a quilt show instead. The organizers plan to stagger the events by putting on the quilt show in odd years and the Living History Day event in even years.
Many features, like the covered wagon rides and Abraham Lincoln-look-a-like, will return. The Hokey Pokey Jail and 19th century one-room schoolhouse will also return.
Most Oakland stores, including the newly opened Tolly’s, will be open both days for food and drink. This year the organizers gave local students the opportunity to use various fundraising booths to raise funds for their schools.
“The class of 2023 is doing ‘Rosie’s Root Beer Saloon’ and will be selling Root Beer Floats,” said Riley. “The upper class makes chili and cornbread and the 2022 class brings live animals and runs a shop with things that small children can buy.”
New attractions include the Fort Umpqua muzzleloaders, steam engines, and blacksmiths. A cannon is fired several times a day to re-enact the civil war. Gold diggers, weavers and corn mills also offer demonstrations. Child-friendly activities are offered on both days.
There are performances throughout the event, including live bands on the main stage and four can-can dances daily.
Organizers, volunteers and students will be in period costume. Participants are welcome to wear similar clothing, but Keehley suggests keeping it simple.
“Wear jeans and flannel shirts, cowboy boots and hats,” she said. “It will look like Dodge City – we hope.”
Oakland Living History Days are held downtown in City Park and begin on Saturday at 10am. The Civil War Bar in Coco’s Cafe starts at 6pm and ends with activities on the first day. The event continues on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event is free, but some activities are chargeable. Horse-drawn carriage rides are $ 3 and the Civil War Ball is $ 5 for each adult.
“All in all, it’s going to be a really fun weekend,” said Keehley.
Erica Welch is a community reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at [email protected] or 541-957-4218.