By Mary Lou Nahas
For Capital Region Independent Media
At this time of year, I always write about Oak Hill Day.
Do you need to tell the story every year, you might ask? My answer is that I do because people always ask me about it. There are many new folks in our community who may have no idea about what it is and others just forget, but probably most important is that each year is different, although the basic plan is always the same.
The annual Oak Hill Day this year will be on Saturday, July 30, the last Saturday of the month. I know the youth fair is going on that day too and hope folks will visit both.
Oak Hill Day is intended to celebrate the spirit of the community, both past and present. It is organized by the Oak Hill Preservation Association. The OHPA, founded in 2004, is a nonprofit society organized to preserve and protect the historic environment of Oak Hill, to raise public awareness and promote the preservation and appreciation of this environment through organized historical and cultural activities, public programs and events, including tours and lectures, appropriate exhibits and displays, and membership.
Oak Hill Day was one of the early projects of the group. It originated as Garage Sale Day to support St. Paul’s Church’s annual rummage sale run by Karla Tyson, a strong supporter of the town.
Karen Patterson, president of the Oak Hill Preservation Association, is chairing the event again this year. The day officially starts at 9 a.m. with lawn sales around town and ends with ice cream and music this year on St. Paul’s church lawn.
The yard sales are along Route 81 and on side roads. There has never been a real map because people often wait until the last minute to decide to have a sale and because no one has wanted to make a map, a job which takes a lot of work. Sales are noted with signs provided by OHPA. Last year OHPA purchased new signs but if anyone still has an old one (people frequently keep their sign from year to year; it is easier than returning, storing and handing out again), they can definitely use it.
The new signs can be picked up at the post office, town building and I U Tripp store. The yard sales will be advertised on the Oak Hill and Vicinity Facebook page, so when people decide to host a sale, they should post a note there in a comment. That means someone can add their address up to the last minute.
As for lawn sales, the large, multifamily sale at Mert and Kathy Hulbert’s house on Route 81 as you come into town from Greenville is happening again this year. We will be noting a sale in Durham village on Mansard Road. Janet Cox will have a booth near Mattice, Karen Conway will be having a sale as well, as will the Oak Hill Methodist Church.
Not only will the church have its usual household and collectible items, but a bake sale, hot dogs and the Weslock’s Pizza Box will be serving their famous fare again this year. Last year they ran out, so get your orders in early. Mattice will have coffee, tea and sodas from around the world. The list is still building.
By noon the yard sales will have calmed down and the emphasis will shift focus. Since St. Paul’s Church is being highlighted this year, several events will be there: From 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m., Ukulele Catskill will be playing at the church. This is a group that gathers every Saturday to play and sing together at the Catskill United Methodist Church. This Saturday they will be coming to Oak Hill and hope everyone will come to hear them, said Leigh Van Swall, who has organized their visit.
From 3:30-4 p.m. there will be a talk about the history of the building and the people who founded it, St. Paul’s Cemetery and those buried there, and memories from people who attended the church over the years (we hope for lots of group participation for this part). Visitors are invited to wander through the cemetery during the day, noticing the stones and the names of early residents. Thanks to Bruce Barrett, a town resident, for keeping the grounds mowed and in such good shape this summer.
At 4 p.m., Diane Dratz and crew will be serving free ice cream from Stewart’s, and members of the Twelve Tribes and others in the community will play music at St. Paul’s. All area residents who play an instrument are invited to participate. This is an informal, fun time.
Several programs will be offered at new businesses in town. Jodie Colwell McCabe, a long-time resident of the hamlet who recently opened Wild Flower, will do some flower arranging demonstrations for children at her shop.
Sue Benfield, owner of Makers of Manners, a knitwear company in Oak Hill, will demonstrate how she produces her products. After a career as a knitwear designer, production advisor and textiles professor in London and New York City, she now consults and maintains an extensive swatch collection in the studio above Mattice Boutique, a boutique department store housed in the Mattice Law Office next to the DeWitt Farmhouse. Makers of Manners also manufactures small-batch knitwear and accessories for select apparel companies. There is a “Made Upstairs” collection available in the store that includes original and renovated knitwear for men and women. Materials include locally sourced yarns from upstate New York flocks. A course of hand and machine-knitting classes is planned for the fall.
While there will be no formal presentation, visitors are invited to look at the restoration work being done by Fran Cox, the Barn Doctor, on the doors of the barn across the street from the brick house. Interested individuals can also pick up some printed information about listing properties on the Greene County Historic Register and on the most recent funding from New York state for barn restoration.
Ken Dean’s Garden at Mattice will be open for viewing and picnicking. Ken, a botanist who was a long-time resident of the town, was a founding member of OHPA and planted lilies that would bloom for Oak Hill Day.
Historic buildings that will be open that day include Ford’s store, an early carriage house taht houses New and Abused, an 1830s law office, I U Tripp general store, Oak Hill Methodist Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Yellow Deli in Lyman Tremain Opera House and Lodge Hall, the Rugg House.
You can see there is lots to offer at Oak Hill Day, both old and new. Karen Patterson said if you would like to participate, don’t wait to be asked; please say so, but please say so as soon as possible. OHPA wants to include everyone who wants to participate and to have it run smoothly. You can ask questions through the Oak Hill and Vicinity Facebook page.
New yard sale signs are available this year from Oak Hill Preservation Association which originated the event to support the historic character of the town.
Yard sales which start the day about 9 a.m. are something of a frenzy of shoppers looking for bargains.
Diane Dratz organizes the ice cream social at the end of the day with free ice cream from Stewarts.
The event started as a way to support St Paul’s church; one of the two historic churches listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This year the ice cream social and music as well as a history talk will be there.
What is involved in restoring doors on a historic barn and what funding is now available from NY State for barn restoration now?
Ken Dean’s garden will be open for visitors and picnics.