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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Woodland celebrates its 150th anniversary

Woodland to hold a year-long “Celebrate Woodland” campaign 

Woodland celebrated its 150th anniversary on Feb. 22, 2021, and the city is hosting a series of events over the course of the year in celebration. 

According to a press release, the theme for the sesquicentennial celebration is “Celebrate Woodland” and the year-long celebration is intended to highlight both its history and future.

 The celebration will begin with a t-shirt design contest and a birthday card contest. More information on these first two virtual events and how Woodland residents can get involved are located on the Celebrate Woodland website

President of the Yolo County Historical Society Kathy Harryman explained that this celebration is part of a rich legacy of local life. 

“In 1888, Woodland was called the richest town in the United States,” Harryman said via email. “In the late 1960s there was a resurgence in preserving the town’s local businesses and houses. Today, Woodland still embodies the optimism and dedication of the early pioneers.”

Harryman explained that her recent studies on Woodland’s Chinatown has shed light on new aspects of Woodland history for her. 

“That study has been a fascinating adventure of discovery for me,” Harryman said via email. “China Alley reminds us of the contributions that immigrants have made in this community.”

Harryman explained that her decision to volunteer for the Celebrate Woodland project was driven by a dedication to both preserve local history and continue its legacy. 

“Part of the Yolo County Historical Society’s mission is to preserve history in the county,” Harryman said via email. “We educate and advocate history. Working on this committee not only fulfills our objective, but continues the rich legacy of history in this town.”

Communications Manager and Policy Analyst for the City of Woodland Spencer Bowen explained that the event is a collaborative project that incorporates multiple facets of the Woodland community. 

“The driving force behind this effort is a group of community members, some city staff and local organizations,” Bowen said. “The important thing is that this is a diverse group of actors, all with unique talents and skills.”

In addition to the t-shirt and birthday card design contests, Celebrate Woodland will host a variety of other projects and events, including a project that highlights some Woodland residents over the age of 100, explained Bowen. 

“A lot of what we are doing is celebrating history, and one of the features we want to do is finding Woodland centenarians and asking them to tell their stories,” Bowen said. “One of our larger themes is that we want to recognize those who are invested in and central to the community. Documenting stories adds a personal touch.” 

While much of the focus is on Woodland’s history, Bowen explained that Celebrate Woodland is as much about looking toward the future as it is celebrating the past. 

“Woodland has always been good at celebrating its history while looking toward its future,” Bowen said. “On our video project, we want to tell the stories of the agriculture community and the Woodland youth. We want to tell stories focused around the future and economic development.” 

Bowen explained that while it is difficult to plan for in-person gatherings, these events will hopefully culminate in a Downtown Festival on Oct. 16, 2021. 

“The balance of in-person gathering is targeted till later in the year,” Bowen said. “We have to constantly read and react in relation to what is happening. It’s hard to plan, but we’re optimistic about being able to host an outdoor event by October. We’re taking it as it comes.”

Bowen explained that the Celebrate Woodland Committee understands that a lot of individuals are facing very real challenges in their lives right now, and his hope is that these events can be celebratory and hopeful while also maintaining a sense of perspective. 

“As enthused as we are, we understand that there are more important things in people’s lives,” Bowen said. “We have a healthy perspective on this, but there is some hope that this event can help people emerge from a really challenging time. We really believe that Woodland is uniquely good at coming together as a community.” 

Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — city@theaggie.org

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