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Summertime Blues

Oldham County History Center Gala
tops $40,000

The annual dinner and auctions are its major fundraiser

LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2017) – Many in the community look forward to the annual Oldham County Historical Society’s fundraising Gala. This year’s event had a more casual atmosphere with the theme, Summertime Blues, reminiscent of 1950s summer picnics and reunions by the lake. Usually held in September, this event keeps the doors open for the History Center in La Grange.
This year’s Gala took place on Friday, June 23, on the grounds of the Oldham County History Center and adjacent parking lot, where a huge tent was erected for the special evening.
The change in date from September to June was made because of too many other fundraising events and activities that will be taking place later this year, said Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director of the History Center.

Photo by Don Ward

Honoree Bob Arvin (center) poses with his family.

Attendance was high with about 200 people enjoying appetizers, catered dinner by Masterson’s Catering, open bar and silent and live auctions with guest auctioneer Mike Simpson. More than $40,000 was raised from bids on such items as UK ballgame tickets, Downtown Getaway (overnight stay at 21c Hotel in Louisville and breakfast for two at Proof on Main), private tour and tastings for six people at 3rd Turn Brewery, Oldham County Day Basket filled with items pertaining to Oldham County Day donated by Project Guild of La Grange, golf-themed Oldham County Country Club package, Ameristep Hunting Blind, Broken Earth Pottery, and a collection of eight white wines with wine rack.
“We use the money from the Gala for our annual operating budget,” said Theiss. Proceeds provide about 20 percent of annual operational costs and helps fund programming such as History Dinner Series, Colonial Trade Faire, Junior Ranger programs, summer camps, Out & About Tours, wreath making workshops, Living Treasures Reception, Colonial Indoor Market and Breakfast with the Grinch.
“The Gala Committee works hard throughout the year and annual sponsors support the Gala tables,” Theiss said. Tickets were $150 per person.
Each year the J. Chilton Barnett Champion of Oldham County History award is presented to honor an individual (or organization) that has demonstrated a sincere interest in Oldham County history and a desire and effort to preserve that history for future generations.
The 2017 recipient was Dr. Robert Arvin.
Throughout his 16-year tenure as superintendent of Oldham County Schools, Arvin accomplished many things. A life-long Oldham Countian, he oversaw a successful expanding school system and raised taxes to build a second high school, South Oldham High. He is still involved with schools as an education consultant.
While the Gala fundraising proceeds are geared toward operational costs, the Oldham County Historical Society is still seeking donations for the completion of its campus renovation project.
So far the $2 million campaign has funded a complete renovation of the interior and exterior of the Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum, installation of signage, and repair and replacement of the iron fence around part of the campus. It also has funded painting inside and out of the Rob Morris Chapel Educational Building and the exterior of the J.C. Barnett Library & Archives building.
To finish the project, several things are still needed, such as landscaping and memorial pavers, resurfacing the museum porch, and the installation of an outdoor veteran sculpture.
The sculpture will be modeled after World War II veteran and native Oldham Countian, Bruce Heilman. The statue’s goal is to make future generations aware of Heilman’s accomplishments and other veterans like him.
“As a Thank You to Heilman, his Harley-Davidson and the public awareness he draws to the sacrifices made by those who fought in World War II, plans are under way to erect a statue on the History Center campus so that Oldham County will never forget these brave men and women,” said Theiss. “This statue will invite visitors to ‘hop on and ride with Bruce’ as a tribute to the Greatest Generation.
A special feature still to be built on the History Center campus is the Dahlgren Dogtrot Barn. Oldham County residents and History Center members Nancy and Ken Dahlgren have generously donated funding for this project. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on the first weekend of June during the annual Colonial Trade Faire.

The barn will feature a stone fireplace for period cooking demonstrations, along with such trades as blacksmithing and antique tools. Tentative plans call for the barn to be completed by the end of the year.

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