Three Oaks Sesquicentennial Celebration To Kick Off With Jan. 21 Party

January 10th, 2017

THREE OAKS — Planners of Three Oaks’ 150-year birthday bash are wasting no time in planning and fund-raising for the coming summer of pageantry and celebration.

A “President’s Reception” Sesquicentennial kickoff party is set for Saturday, Jan. 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Staymaker Restaurant at Journeyman Distillery, 109 Generations Dr. The evening will include hors d’ oeuvres while browsing through an overview of the coming events, history displays and opportunities to volunteer. Admission is $50, with all proceeds going to underwrite the summer festivities. Kickoff tickets can be reserved by calling (269) 756-9221 or sending an email to (credit cards accepted).

Kickoff entertainment will be provided by the “world’s greatest solo acoustic guitarist playing amiable, pleasing and energizing music that will make you want to volunteer,” according to Garth Taylor, chairman of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee and a known guitarist.

Five weekends of activities are being planned on July 7-8 and 21-22, Aug. 4-5 and 18-19 and Dedication Day on Saturday, Sept. 16. Activities range from music and dancing to history pageants, talent shows, a Civil War skirmish reenactment, teas and free movie nights.

The kickoff itself is being held in the village’s landmark Featherbone Factory, founded in 1883 by E. K. Warren as a buggy whip and corset factory. Local historians say the factory put Three Oaks on the map with its revolutionary use of turkey featherbones which were softer than the stiffer whalebones used by corset makes in the late 19th Century. Fittingly, a statue of Warren is being commissioned for dedication on Sept. 16.

Three Oaks was first settled by Henry Chamberlain in 1850 and became a village in 1867. The village was originally called Chamberlain’s Siding but was later changed to Three Oaks.

Most of the sesquicentennial activities will be centered around Dewey Cannon Park, the site of a village high point when United States President William McKinley dedicated the park’s Spanish-American War cannon in 1899 in recognition of the village raising $1,400, the largest contribution per capita of any community in the nation for a memorial to the men of the battleship Maine.

The Sesquicentennial events will reflect the early days of the village and township and its history through the years. Among the events planned are a beard-growing contest and period fashion show; a history play coordinated by Alan Turner; a choral concert by the Harbor Country Singers; tug-of-war, checkers and croquet tournaments; history tours coordinated by the Region of Three Oaks Museum; a dance performance directed by local dance instructor Theresa Graziano, and pie-baking and -eating contests.

Sponsorships are available for all events, beginning at a few hundred dollars. Taylor said sponsorships are a great way to get name recognition and make a tax-free contribution at the same time. The committee is also seeking bids for a food vendor to provide low cost, wholesome food throughout the celebration.

A time capsule will be sealed during the Dedication Ceremonies Sept. 16. Anyone wishing to have their picture included can schedule a free photo session by calling the Three Oaks Arts and Education Center at (269) 409-1191 or emailing

“While we already have a lot of things plans, there is still plenty of room for new suggestions.  The idea for the cricket match came just recently out of the blue. Apparently, cricket was very popular back then before baseball was invented.

“There are lots and lots of limited commitment opportunities to get involved. For example, for the history play we need help with lighting, scenery and hams of all kinds, not just Drier’s hams,” Taylor said, adding the committee is looking for volunteers at all levels, from coordinating an event to just helping out for a few hours. He also said singers were invited to contact the Arts and Education Center to join the Harbor Country Singers for their Sept. 16 performance of historical and patriotic songs.

The next committee meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 25, and then every other Wednesday at the Three Oaks Village Hall, 24 N. Elm St. Meetings begin at 5 p.m. and are guaranteed to be 60 minutes or less.

“The Sesquicentinnial is meant to be a fun and meaningful event for Three Oaks residents but we are planning events that can also be enjoyed by visitors and tourists,” Taylor said.

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