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Oakdale: 150 Years Worth Celebrating
Making History
Adding some shovels full of dirt at the Friday night time capsule ceremony as part of Oakdale’s Sesquicentennial were members of the Oakdale Enrichment Society, from left, President Amy Velasco, Vice President (and Oakdale Mayor) Cher Bairos, Secretary Lisa Ballard and Treasurer Lupe Aguilera. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Five days, multiple events, thousands of people … and countless memories.

That sums up the Oakdale Enrichment Society’s event, celebrating Oakdale’s 150th birthday and a Fourth of July All American Bash.

With events starting on Wednesday, June 23 and continuing through Sunday, June 27, the city was provided with a showcase that allowed it to highlight the things that make Oakdale special.

The celebration was a couple of years in the making, and members of the Oakdale Enrichment Society, OES, were both thrilled and relieved that the pandemic restrictions were loosened literally in the nick of time for their party to go on. California’s COVID-19 restrictions were basically lifted on June 15, just a little more than a week before the first events were scheduled.

Main festivities were on Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26, with a time capsule ceremony and city celebration on Friday night at the Bianchi Community Center, followed by the Saturday morning parade and events all afternoon and evening at the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds.

Surrounding those events were special activities such as a limited edition craft beer release at Dying Breed, booths and music, food and fun at the Oakdale Cowboy Museum, tours of historical sites and self-guided history walks, a mobile display of history hosted by the Friends of Oakdale Heritage in cooperation with the Oakdale Museum and History Center, and a Sunday morning Celebration toast and mimosa bar at Cottonwood Café.

Friday’s time capsule ceremony, presided over by OES President Amy Velasco, kicked off a couple of minutes early, just before 6 p.m.

After welcoming the crowd, Velasco introduced OES Vice President Cher Bairos, who also serves currently as mayor. Just as Velasco introduced the mayor, the familiar blast of the Oakdale fire horn added an unexpected exclamation point, much to the delight of the crowd.

Velasco then told attendees about the time capsule itself.

“We are so thrilled to be here today, celebrating our beloved town. Through good times and bad, prosperity and desperation, we have endured, we have prospered, and we have thrived,” Velasco said. “We stand here today remembering our past, living our present and praying for our future. The time capsule … is both a celebration of our past and a hope for our future. Inside the capsule is a collection of items that best represents our town, then and now.”

She said the items collectively tell a story; a story of community.

“Helping your neighbor, supporting small businesses, and big ideas,” said Velasco. “This is the one aspect of our city that has never changed … 150 years ago we supported each other and 150 years later we are still supporting one another. I have no doubt in my mind that this admirable quality that embodies our town, will live on for another 150 years, and beyond. May this time capsule forever be a representation of who we are, citizens of the greatest little town on Earth.”

The capsule is to be opened in 2046, 25 years from now.

Mayor Cher Bairos took to the podium and echoed the sentiments of support and community loyalty voiced by Velasco, noting how it took people caring about each other to build the city and see it thrive.

“Trust, respect and honor have remained a constant for many generations,” Bairos said.

She also pointed to the city’s location as being an important part of its growth and success.

“Oakdale has so much to offer, both here and just a short drive away. We’re 90 miles from the coast and 90 miles from Yosemite National Park. We have balanced tradition and progress to promote development, while honoring the small-town quality of life,” Bairos said. “As many of you, I was born here and will never leave. Oakdale is part of me and always has been. And now, I have the awesome privilege of serving my community as your Mayor. What an exciting experience it has been and I look forward to the future with excitement, enthusiasm and hope.”

Several special presentations were made to the City, with field representatives of Senator Andreas Borgeas, Assemblyman Heath Flora and U.S. Representative Josh Harder offering congratulations, as well as Stanislaus County Supervisor Buck Condit. Bairos also presented a special proclamation on behalf of the Oakdale City Council.

Shovels full of dirt were added on top of the carefully placed time capsule; Pastor Henry Raven offered a prayer; a huge 150th birthday cake was served, prepared by Moss Rose Bakery; and the celebration was officially underway.

Saturday featured a full day of events, starting with a festive parade along F Street, bringing out plenty of smiles from participants and parade watchers, as everyone enjoyed the chance to jump back into the stream of life, post-COVID.

At the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds on Saturday afternoon, there were tractor pull competitions, food, beverages, games for kids, a petting zoo, informational booths and more. Music featured Gravel and Grace, Valley Fire, and the headliner, country music star David Lee Murphy. He has recorded some hit singles as well as written chart-topping tunes for fellow country artists. His show kicked up a notch when the gates to the rodeo arena were opened and fans flowed out of the grandstands to crowd the stage, getting up close and personal with the country superstar.

After the show, the night sky was lit up with a professional fireworks display, choreographed to music, to put the finishing touches on this once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Headliner David Lee Murphy thrilled the crowd on Saturday night with a selection of his own hits and those country chart-toppers he has written for fellow artists. Marg Jackson/The Leader
pub works
Public Works crew members Brad Clinkenbeard and Andy Lopez carry the time capsule plaque to place at the site where the capsule will be sealed into the pavement at the Bianchi Community Center, to be opened in 2046. Marg Jackson/The Leader